Behavioural brain research

Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses vomiting behavior and Fos expression in both acute and delayed phases of cisplatin-induced emesis in the least shrew.

PMID 18721829


Cisplatin chemotherapy frequently causes severe vomiting in two temporally separated clusters of bouts dubbed the acute and delayed phases. Cannabinoids can inhibit the acute phase, albeit through a poorly understood mechanism. We examined the substrates of cannabinoid-mediated inhibition of both the emetic phases via immunolabeling for serotonin, Substance P, cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB(1), CB(2)), and the neuronal activation marker Fos in the least shrew (Cryptotis parva). Shrews were injected with cisplatin (10mg/kg i.p.), and one of vehicle, Delta(9)-THC, or both Delta(9)-THC and the CB(1) receptor antagonist SR141716A (2mg/kg i.p.), and monitored for vomiting. Delta(9)-THC-pretreatment caused concurrent decreases in the number of shrews expressing vomiting and Fos-immunoreactivity (Fos-IR), effects which were blocked by SR141716A-pretreatment. Acute phase vomiting induced Fos-IR in the solitary tract nucleus (NTS), dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMNX), and area postrema (AP), whereas in the delayed phase Fos-IR was not induced in the AP at all, and was induced at lower levels in the other nuclei when compared to the acute phase. CB(1) receptor-IR in the NTS was dense, punctate labeling indicative of presynaptic elements, which surrounded Fos-expressing NTS neurons. CB(2) receptor-IR was not found in neuronal elements, but in vascular-appearing structures. All areas correlated with serotonin- and Substance P-IR. These results support published acute phase data in other species, and are the first describing Fos-IR following delayed phase emesis. The data suggest overlapping but separate mechanisms are invoked for each phase, which are sensitive to antiemetic effects of Delta(9)-THC mediated by CB(1) receptors.