Cannabinoid 1 Receptor Antagonists Play a Neuroprotective Role in Chronic Alcoholic Hippocampal Injury Related to Pyroptosis Pathway

Background: Alcohol use disorders affect millions of people worldwide, and there is growing evidence that excessive alcohol intake causes severe damage to the brain of both humans and animals. Numerous studies on chronic alcohol exposure in animal models have identified that many functional impairments are associated with the hippocampus, which is a structure exhibiting substantial vulnerability to alcohol exposure. However, the precise mechanisms that lead to structural and functional impairments of the hippocampus are poorly understood. Herein, we report a novel cell death type, namely pyroptosis, which accounts for alcohol neurotoxicity in mice.

Methods: For this study, we used an in vivo model to induce alcohol-related neurotoxicity in the hippocampus. Adult male C57BL/6 mice were treated with 95% alcohol vapor either alone or in combination with selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists or agonists, and VX765 (Belnacasan), which is a selective caspase-1 inhibitor.

Results: Alcohol-induced in vivo pyroptosis occurs because of an increase in the levels of pyroptotic proteins such as nucleotide-binding domain (NOD)-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3), caspase-1, gasdermin D (GSDMD), and amplified inflammatory response. Our results indicated that VX765 suppressed the expression of caspase-1 and inhibited the maturation of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18. Additionally, chronic alcohol intake created an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system and regulated 2 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R and CB2R) in the hippocampus. Specific antagonists of CB1R (AM251 and AM281) significantly ameliorated alcohol-induced pyroptosis signaling and inactivated the inflammatory response.

Conclusions: Alcohol induces hippocampal pyroptosis, which leads to neurotoxicity, thereby indicating that pyroptosis may be an essential pathway involved in chronic alcohol-induced hippocampal neurotoxicity. Furthermore, cannabinoid receptors are regulated during this process, which suggests promising therapeutic strategies against alcohol-induced neurotoxicity through pharmacologic inhibition of CB1R.

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S2228 Belnacasan (VX-765) Belnacasan (VX-765) is a potent and selective inhibitor of caspase-1 with Ki of 0.8 nM in a cell-free assay. Phase 2. (61) (5)

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