Archives of biochemistry and biophysics

2-Arachidonoylglycerol is a substrate for butyrylcholinesterase: A potential mechanism for extracellular endocannabinoid regulation.

PMID 23689009


2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is a component of the endocannabinoid receptor pathway and is primarily hydrolyzed by monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) in vivo. We found that the non-specific serine esterase, butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), can hydrolyze 2-AG with reasonable affinity and may present a new compensatory mechanism for endocannabinoid regulation. In vitro hydrolysis reactions of 2-AG with equine BChE were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) positive/negative electrospray ionization (ESI±) to measure the formation of arachidonic acid (AA) and the loss of 2-AG over time (min). The resulting Michaelis-Menten approximations reveal that BChE has affinity towards 2-AG in phosphate buffer at neutral pH (7.4). The calculated Vmax, Km and kcat were 12.1nmols(-1), 57.5μM, and 0.074s(-1), respectively, which produced a diffusion-controlled rate of association (kcat/Km) of 1.3×10(3)M(-1)s(-1). Human BChE 2-AG hydrolysis was measured by immunoprecipitating BChE from fresh plasma and monitoring 2-AG loss and AA formation over time. These findings show that BChE can hydrolyze 2-AG which may be evidence of a more specific role for BChE in endocannabinoid regulation.