The CB2 cannabinoid receptor (CB2) remains a tantalizing, but unrealized therapeutic target. CB2 receptor ligands belong to varied structural classes and display extreme functional selectivity. Here, we have screened diverse CB2 receptor ligands at canonical (inhibition of adenylyl cyclase) and noncanonical (arrestin recruitment) pathways. The nonclassic cannabinoid (−)-cis-3-[2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl]-trans-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol (CP55940) was the most potent agonist for both pathways, while the classic cannabinoid ligand (6aR,10aR)-3-(1,1-Dimethylbutyl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran JWH133) was the most efficacious agonist among all the ligands profiled in cyclase assays. In the cyclase assay, other classic cannabinoids showed little [(−)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and (−)-(6aR,7,10,10aR)-tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-3-(1-methyl-1-phenylethyl)-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran-1-ol] (KM233) to no efficacy [(6aR,10aR)-1-methoxy-6,6,9-trimethyl-3-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydrobenzo[c]chromene(L759633) and (6aR,10aR)-3-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)-6a,7,8,9,10,10a-hexahydro-1-methoxy-6,6-dimethyl-9-methylene-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran]L759656. Most aminoalkylindoles, including [(3R)-2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-(4-morpholinylmethyl)pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl]-1-naphthalenyl-methanone, monomethanesulfonate (WIN55212-2), were moderate efficacy agonists. The cannabilactone 3-(1,1-dimethyl-heptyl)-1-hydroxy-9-methoxy-benzo(c)chromen-6-one (AM1710) was equiefficacious to CP55940 to inhibit adenylyl cyclase, albeit with lower potency. In the arrestin recruitment assays, all classic cannabinoid ligands failed to recruit arrestins, indicating a bias toward G-protein coupling for this class of compound. All aminoalkylindoles tested, except for WIN55212-2 and (1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)-methanone (UR144), failed to recruit arrestin. WIN55212-2 was a low efficacy agonist for arrestin recruitment, while UR144 was arrestin biased with no significant inhibition of cyclase. Endocannabinoids were G-protein biased with no arrestin recruitment. The diarylpyrazole antagonist 5-(4-chloro-3-methylphenyl)-1-[(4-methylphenyl)methyl]-N-[(1S,2S,4R)-1,3,3-trimethylbicyclo[2.2.1]hept-2-yl]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR144258) was an inverse agonist in cyclase and arrestin recruitment assays while the aminoalkylindole 6-iodo-2-methyl-1-[2-(4-morpholinyl)ethyl]-1H-indol-3-yl](4-methoxyphenyl)methanone (AM630) and carboxamide N-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-ylmethyl)-1,2-dihydro-7-methoxy-2-oxo-8-(pentyloxy)-3-quinolinecarboxamide (JTE907) were inverse agonists in cyclase but low efficacy agonists in arrestin recruitment assays. Thus, CB2 receptor ligands display strong and varied functional selectivity at both pathways. Therefore, extreme care must be exercised when using these compounds to infer the role of CB2 receptors in vivo.
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics