Date of Completion

May 2006


Although cannabinoid drugs have been used for thousands of years both recreationally and therapeutically, little has been known about their mechanisms of action until recently. Since the discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid CB1 receptor in 1988, the behavioral profile of cannabinoid receptor ligands has been much more thoroughly defined. Cannabinoid CB1 agonists have been shown to produce a variety of behavioral effects including suppression of locomotion, catalepsy, hypothermia, and analgesia. Research has also demonstrated that these behavioral effects can be inhibited by CB1 receptor antagonists including SR 141716 and AM 251. Although behavioral indicators of anxiety including thigmotaxis have been observed in several different paradigms, there is inconclusive and often times contradictory evidence to define the role of anxiety in CB1 receptor activation. The present study addressed the behavioral profile of AM 4054, a novel full agonist at the CB1 receptor, as well as the ability of the CB1 antagonist AM 251 to reverse these effects. To further identify and expand research on the suppression of locomotion and induction of thigmotaxis with the administration of a CB1 agonist, experiment 1 was conducted in the open field. In this experiment, each rat (n=40) was randomly assigned one of the five treatments: vehicle, 0.16, 0.32, 0.64, or 1.25 mg/kg AM 4054. After a 30 minute pre-treatment, each subject was tested in the open field for 18 minutes. Results indicated that AM 4054 produced a dose-related suppression of locomotion as well as the subtle presence of thigmotaxis in two out of four doses. In experiment 2, subjects (n=40) received either vehicle or 2.0 or 4.0 mg/kg AM 251 60 minutes prior to testing. After 30 minutes, the subjects were given either a 0.3 mg/kg dose of AM 4054 or vehicle. After a total pretreatment duration of 60 minutes, the animals were tested on a battery of tasks including an 18 minute session in locomotor boxes. Experiment 2 was a continuation of a previous study conducted in the same lab, which confirmed the effects of AM 4054 on this tetrad of tasks as being consistent with other cannabinoid agonists. In this experiment the effects of AM 4054 were reversed by the administration of the CB1 antagonist AM 251. Past studies have shown that AM 4054 is a highly potent drug with behavioral actions similar to other cannabinoid CB1 agonists. Furthermore, AM 4054 can be a useful drug in future studies, and has potential therapeutic value for the treatment of various conditions.