Protective action of anandamide and its COX-2 metabolite against L-homocysteine-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation and injury in podocytes

Guangbi Li, Min Xia, Justine M. Abais, Krishna Boini, Pin Lan Li, Joseph K. Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated that L-homocysteine (Hcys)- induced podocyte injury leading to glomerular damage or sclerosis is attributable to the activation of the nucleotidebinding oligomerization domain-like receptor containing pyrin domain 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. Given the demonstrated antiinflammatory effects of endocannabinoids, the present study was designed to test whether anandamide (AEA) or its metabolites diminish NLRP3 inflammasome activation and prevent podocyte injury and associated glomerular damage during hyperhomocysteinemia (hHcys). AEA (100 μM) inhibited Hcysinduced NLRP3 inflammasome activation in cultured podocytes, as indicated by elevated caspase-1 activity and interleukin-1ß levels, and attenuated podocyte dysfunction, as shown by reduced vascular endothelial growth factor production. These effects of AEA were inhibited by the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib (CEL). In mice in vivo, AEA treatment attenuated glomerular NLRP3 inflammasome activation induced by hHcys accompanying a folate-free diet, on the basis of inhibition of hHcys-induced colocalization of NLRP3 molecules and increased interleukin-1b levels in glomeruli. Correspondingly, AEA prevented hHcys-induced proteinuria, albuminuria, and glomerular damage observed microscopically. Hcys- and AEA-induced effects were absent in NLRP3-knockout mice. These beneficial effects of AEA against hHcys-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation and glomerular injury were not observed in mice cotreated with CEL. We further demonstrated that prostaglandin E2-ethanolamide (PGE2-EA), a COX-2 product of AEA, at 10 mM had a similar inhibitory effect to that of 100 mM AEA on Hcys-induced NLRP3 inflammasome formation and activation in cultured podocytes. From these results, we conclude that AEA has anti-inflammatory properties, protecting podocytes from Hcys-induced injury by inhibition of NLRP3 inflammasome activation through its COX-2 metabolite, PGE2-EA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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