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      Molecular evidence for the involvement of PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ in anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities of palmitoylethanolamide after spinal cord trauma


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          Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is an endogenous fatty acid amide displaying anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions. Moreover, several data have suggested that PEA reduced inflammation and tissue injury associated with spinal cord trauma and showed a regulatory role for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α signaling in the neuroprotective effect of PEA. However, several other mechanisms could explain the anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects of PEA, including the activation of PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ. The aim of the present study was to carefully investigate the exact contribution of PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ in addition to PPAR-α, in the protective effect of PEA on secondary inflammatory damage associated with an experimental model of spinal cord injury (SCI).


          SCI was induced in mice through a spinal cord compression by the application of vascular clips (force of 24 g) to the dura via a four-level T5 to T8 laminectomy, and PEA (10 mg/kg, intraperitoneally, 1 and 6 hours after SCI) was injected into wildtype mice and into mice lacking PPAR-α (PPAR-αKO). To deepen the ability of specific PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ antagonists to reverse the effect of PEA, mice were administered GSK0660 or GW9662, 30 minutes before PEA injection.


          Genetic ablation of PPAR-α in mice exacerbated spinal cord damage, while PEA-induced neuroprotection seemed be abolished in PPARαKO mice. Twenty-four hours after spinal cord damage, immunohistological and biochemical studies were performed on spinal cord tissue. Our results indicate that PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ also mediated the protection induced by PEA. In particular, PEA was less effective in PPAR-αKO, GSK0660-treated or GW9662-pretreated mice, as evaluated by the degree of spinal cord inflammation and tissue injury, neutrophil infiltration, proinflammmatory cytokine, inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and motor function. PEA is also able to restore PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ expression in spinal cord tissue.


          This study indicates that PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ can also contribute to the anti-inflammatory activity of PEA in SCI.

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          Most cited references 56

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          The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha mediates the anti-inflammatory actions of palmitoylethanolamide.

          Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), the naturally occurring amide of palmitic acid and ethanolamine, reduces pain and inflammation through an as-yet-uncharacterized mechanism. Here, we identify the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPAR-alpha) as the molecular target responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of PEA. PEA selectively activates PPAR-alpha in vitro with an EC(50) value of 3.1 +/- 0.4 microM and induces the expression of PPAR-alpha mRNA when applied topically to mouse skin. In two animal models, carrageenan-induced paw edema and phorbol ester-induced ear edema, PEA attenuates inflammation in wild-type mice but has no effect in mice deficient in PPAR-alpha. The natural PPAR-alpha agonist oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and the synthetic PPAR-alpha agonists GW7647 and Wy-14643 mimic these effects in a PPAR-alpha-dependent manner. These findings indicate that PPAR-alpha mediates the anti-inflammatory effects of PEA and suggest that this fatty-acid ethanolamide may serve, like its analog OEA, as an endogenous ligand of PPAR-alpha.
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            Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha negatively regulates the vascular inflammatory gene response by negative cross-talk with transcription factors NF-kappaB and AP-1.

            Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine, whose plasma levels are elevated in inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis. We have previously reported that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) ligands (fibrates) lower elevated plasma concentrations of IL-6 in patients with atherosclerosis and inhibit IL-1-stimulated IL-6 secretion by human aortic smooth muscle cells (SMC). Here, we show that aortic explants isolated from PPARalpha-null mice display an exacerbated response to inflammatory stimuli, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), as demonstrated by increased IL-6 secretion. Furthermore, fibrate treatment represses IL-6 mRNA levels in LPS-stimulated aortas of PPARalpha wild-type, but not of PPARalpha-null mice, demonstrating a role for PPARalpha in this fibrate action. In human aortic SMC, fibrates inhibit IL-1-induced IL-6 gene expression. Furthermore, activation of PPARalpha represses both c-Jun- and p65-induced transcription of the human IL-6 promoter. Transcriptional interference between PPARalpha and both c-Jun and p65 occurs reciprocally, since c-Jun and p65 also inhibit PPARalpha-mediated activation of a PPAR response element-driven promoter. This transcriptional interference occurs independent of the promoter context as demonstrated by cotransfection experiments using PPARalpha, p65, and c-Jun Gal4 chimeras. Overexpression of the transcriptional coactivator cAMP-responsive element-binding protein-binding protein (CBP) does not relieve PPARalpha-mediated transcriptional repression of p65 and c-Jun. Finally, glutathione S-transferase pull-down experiments demonstrate that PPARalpha physically interacts with c-Jun, p65, and CBP. Altogether these data indicate that fibrates inhibit the vascular inflammatory response via PPARalpha by interfering with the NF-kappaB and AP-1 transactivation capacity involving direct protein-protein interaction with p65 and c-Jun.
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              Control of pain initiation by endogenous cannabinoids.

              The potent analgesic effects of cannabis-like drugs and the presence of CB1-type cannabinoid receptors in pain-processing areas of the brain and spinal cord indicate that endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide may contribute to the control of pain transmission within the central nervous system (CNS). Here we show that anandamide attenuates the pain behaviour produced by chemical damage to cutaneous tissue by interacting with CB1-like cannabinoid receptors located outside the CNS. Palmitylethanolamide (PEA), which is released together with anandamide from a common phospholipid precursor, exerts a similar effect by activating peripheral CB2-like receptors. When administered together, the two compounds act synergistically, reducing pain responses 100-fold more potently than does each compound alone. Gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry measurements indicate that the levels of anandamide and PEA in the skin are enough to cause a tonic activation of local cannabinoid receptors. In agreement with this possibility, the CB1 antagonist SR141716A and the CB2 antagonist SR144528 prolong and enhance the pain behaviour produced by tissue damage. These results indicate that peripheral CB1-like and CB2-like receptors participate in the intrinsic control of pain initiation and that locally generated anandamide and PEA may mediate this effect.

                Author and article information

                J Neuroinflammation
                J Neuroinflammation
                Journal of Neuroinflammation
                BioMed Central
                1 February 2013
                : 10
                : 20
                [1 ]Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Messina, Viale Ferdinando Stagno D'Alcontres, Messina, 31-98166, Italy
                [2 ]Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Manchester Royal Infirmary, School of Medicine, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9WL, UK
                Copyright ©2013 Paterniti et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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