Image_1_The Endocannabinoid/Cannabinoid Receptor 2 System Protects Against Cisplatin-Induced Hearing Loss.TIF
Previous studies have demonstrated the presence of cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2R) in the rat cochlea which was induced by cisplatin. In an organ of Corti-derived cell culture model, it was also shown that an agonist of the CB2R protected these cells against cisplatin-induced apoptosis. In the current study, we determined the distribution of CB2R in the mouse and rat cochleae and examined whether these receptors provide protection against cisplatin-induced hearing loss. In a knock-in mouse model expressing the CB2R tagged with green fluorescent protein, we show distribution of CB2R in the organ of Corti, stria vascularis, spiral ligament and spiral ganglion cells. A similar distribution of CB2R was observed in the rat cochlea using a polyclonal antibody against CB2R. Trans-tympanic administration of (2-methyl-1-propyl-1H-indol-3-yl)-1-naphthalenylmethanone (JWH015), a selective agonist of the CB2R, protected against cisplatin-induced hearing loss which was reversed by blockade of this receptor with 6-iodo-2-methyl-1-[2-(4-morpholinyl)ethyl]-1H-indol-3-yl](4-methoxyphenyl)methanone (AM630), an antagonist of CB2R. JWH015 also reduced the loss of outer hair cells (OHCs) in the organ of Corti, loss of inner hair cell (IHC) ribbon synapses and loss of Na+/K+-ATPase immunoreactivity in the stria vascularis. Administration of AM630 alone produced significant hearing loss (measured by auditory brainstem responses) which was not associated with loss of OHCs, but led to reductions in the levels of IHC ribbon synapses and strial Na+/K+-ATPase immunoreactivity. Furthermore, knock-down of CB2R by trans-tympanic administration of siRNA sensitized the cochlea to cisplatin-induced hearing loss at the low and middle frequencies. Hearing loss induced by cisplatin and AM630 in the rat was associated with increased expression of genes for oxidative stress and inflammatory proteins in the rat cochlea. In vitro studies indicate that JWH015 did not alter cisplatin-induced killing of cancer cells suggesting this agent could be safely used during cisplatin chemotherapy. These data unmask a protective role of the cochlear endocannabinoid/CB2R system which appears tonically active under normal conditions to preserve normal hearing. However, an exogenous agonist is needed to boost the activity of endocannabinoid/CB2R system for protection against a more traumatic cochlear insult, as observed with cisplatin administration.