Localization of CB1-cannabinoid receptor immunoreactivity in the porcine enteric nervous system

Anjali Kulkarni-Narla, David R. Brown

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107 Scopus citations


Cannabis has been used for centuries in the medicinal treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Endogenous cannabinimimetic substances such as 2-arachidonylglycerol have been isolated from gut homogenates and CB1-cannabinoid binding sites have been identified in small intestine. In this study, CB1-cannabinoid receptors (CB1-R) were immunohistochemically localized within the enteric nervous system of the pig, an omnivorous species whose digestive tract is functionally similar to humans. Two anti-CB1-R antisera, raised against N-terminal epitopes in the human CB1-R, were employed to localize receptor immunoreactivity by secondary immunofluorescence. CB1-R immunoreactivity was observed in the myenteric and submucosal ganglionated plexuses of porcine ileum and colon. In the ileum, all CB1-R-immunoreactive neurons coexpressed immunoreactivity to the cholinergic marker, choline acetyl-transferase (ChAT). CB1-R/ChAT-immunoreactive neurons appeared to be in close apposition to ileal Peyer's patches, submucosal blood vessels, and intestinal crypts. In the distal colon, CB1-R-immunoreactive neurons also expressed immunoreactivity to ChAT, albeit less frequently than in ileum. Immunoreactivity to vasoactive intestinal peptide or nitric oxide synthase was not colocalized in ileal or colonic CB1-R-immunoreactive neurons. These studies indicate that CB1-R are present in cholinergic neurons in the porcine enteric nervous system. The potential roles of these receptors in intestinal motility and epithelial transport, host defense and visceral pain transmission are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements AKN was a postdoctoral trainee supported by NIH Psychoneuroimmunology Training Grant T32 DA-07239.

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported by NIH grant DA-10200


  • Cannabis
  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • Gut immunity
  • Gut motility
  • Intestinal mucosa
  • Pig (Yorkshire)
  • Substance P
  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide

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