Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 55, Issue 8, pp 6347–6361 | Cite as

Cannabis Users Show Enhanced Expression of CB1-5HT2A Receptor Heteromers in Olfactory Neuroepithelium Cells

  • Liliana Galindo
  • Estefanía Moreno
  • Fernando López-Armenta
  • Daniel Guinart
  • Aida Cuenca-Royo
  • Mercè Izquierdo-Serra
  • Laura Xicota
  • Cristina Fernandez
  • Esther Menoyo
  • José M. Fernández-Fernández
  • Gloria Benítez-King
  • Enric I. Canela
  • Vicent Casadó
  • Víctor Pérez
  • Rafael de la Torre
  • Patricia RobledoEmail author


Cannabinoid CB1 receptors (CB1R) and serotonergic 2A receptors (5HT2AR) form heteromers in the brain of mice where they mediate the cognitive deficits produced by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. However, it is still unknown whether the expression of this heterodimer is modulated by chronic cannabis use in humans. In this study, we investigated the expression levels and functionality of CB1R-5HT2AR heteromers in human olfactory neuroepithelium (ON) cells of cannabis users and control subjects, and determined their molecular characteristics through adenylate cyclase and the ERK 1/2 pathway signaling studies. We also assessed whether heteromer expression levels correlated with cannabis consumption and cognitive performance in neuropsychological tests. ON cells from controls and cannabis users expressed neuronal markers such as βIII-tubulin and nestin, displayed similar expression levels of genes related to cellular self-renewal, stem cell differentiation, and generation of neural crest cells, and showed comparable Na+ currents in patch clamp recordings. Interestingly, CB1R-5HT2AR heteromer expression was significantly increased in cannabis users and positively correlated with the amount of cannabis consumed, and negatively with age of onset of cannabis use. In addition, a negative correlation was found between heteromer expression levels and attention and working memory performance in cannabis users and control subjects. Our findings suggest that cannabis consumption regulates the formation of CB1R-5HT2AR heteromers, and may have a key role in cognitive processing. These heterodimers could be potential new targets to develop treatment alternatives for cognitive impairments.


CB1R-5HT2AR heteromers Cannabis Cognitive Progenitor cells Human olfactory neuroepithelium 



This work was supported by grants from DIUE de la Generalitat de Catalunya (2014-SGR-680 and 2014-SGR-1236 to RTF), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, (P14/00210 to P.R.) FIS-FEDER Funds, Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO/FEDER; grant SAF-2014-54840-R to E.I.C. and V.C., grant SAF-2015-69762-R to J.M.F-F., grant MDM-2014-0370 through the “María de Maeztu” Programme for Units of Excellence in R&D to Department of Experimental and Health Sciences), and the following networks of Instituto de Salud Carlos III: Red de Trastornos Adictivos, CIBER de Salud Mental, CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición and CIBER de Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas. M.I.-S. holds a “Juan de la Cierva-Formación” Fellowship funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. We would like to thank Dr. María Inmaculada Hernández Muñoz for providing the primers in our gene expression studies and for her invaluable comments and suggestions, Klaus Langohr for his help with the statistical analyses, and Jordi García and Mitona Pujadas for excellent technical assistance. Laura Xicota is currently at ICM Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (CNRS UMR7225, INSERM U1127, UPMC) Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12035_2017_833_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supp. Table 1 (DOCX 26 kb)
12035_2017_833_MOESM2_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supp. Table 2 (DOCX 26 kb)
12035_2017_833_MOESM3_ESM.docx (26 kb)
Supp. Table 3 (DOCX 26 kb)
12035_2017_833_MOESM4_ESM.docx (7.7 mb)
Supp. Fig. 1 Biochemical experiments in ON cells. (A) Quantification of relative fluorescence of βIII-tubulin and nestin in ON cells from control subjects and cannabis users. (B) Representative immunoblots for βIII-tubulin, nestin, and actin in controls and cannabis users. (C) Quantification of relative protein intensity of β-III tubulin and nestin in ON cells from control subjects (n = 7) and cannabis users (n = 6). (D-E) Representative confocal microscopy images of ON cells in proximity ligation assays for of the control condition in the absence of anti-5HT2AR primary antibody of a control subject (D), and a cannabis user (E). (DOCX 7915 kb)


  1. 1.
    Mounteney J, Griffiths P, Sedefov R, Noor A, Vicente J, Simon R (2016) The drug situation in Europe: an overview of data available on illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances from European monitoring in 2015. Addiction 111(1):34–48. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Azofeifa A, Mattson ME, Schauer G, McAfee T, Grant A, Lyerla R (2016) National estimates of marijuana use and related indicators—national survey on drug use and health, United States, 2002-2014. MMWR Surveill Summ 65(11):1–28. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Malone DT, Hill MN, Rubino T (2010) Adolescent cannabis use and psychosis: epidemiology and neurodevelopmental models. Br J Pharmacol 160(3):511–522. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chen K, Sheth AJ, Elliott DK, Yeager A (2004) Prevalence and correlates of past-year substance use, abuse, and dependence in a suburban community sample of high-school students. Addict Behav 29(2):413–423. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mackie K (2005) Distribution of Cannabinoid Receptors in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System. In: Pertwee R.G. (eds) Cannabinoids. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, vol 168. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ameri A (1999) The effects of cannabinoids on the brain. Prog Neurobiol 58(4):315–348. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Curran HV, Brignell C, Fletcher S et al (2002) Cognitive and subjective dose-response effects of acute oral Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in infrequent cannabis users. Psychopharmacology 164(1):61–70. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Viñals X, Moreno E, Lanfumey L, Cordomí A, Pastor A, de la Torre R, Gasperini P, Navarro G et al (2015) Cognitive impairment induced by Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol occurs through heteromers between cannabinoid CB1 and serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. PLoS Biol 13(7):e1002194. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lavoie J, Sawa A, Ishizuka K (2017) Application of olfactory tissue and its neural progenitors to schizophrenia and psychiatric research. Curr Opin Psychiatry 30(3):176–183. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Horiuchi Y, Kano S-I, Ishizuka K et al (2013) Olfactory cells via nasal biopsy reflect the developing brain in gene expression profiles: utility and limitation of the surrogate tissues in research for brain disorders. Neurosci Res 77(4):247–250. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Leung CT, Coulombe PA, Reed RR (2007) Contribution of olfactory neural stem cells to tissue maintenance and regeneration. Nat Neurosci 10(6):720–726. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Matigian N, Abrahamsen G, Sutharsan R, Cook AL, Vitale AM, Nouwens A, Bellette B, An J et al (2010) Disease-specific, neurosphere-derived cells as models for brain disorders. Dis Model Mech 3(11-12):785–798. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mackay-Sim A (2012) Concise review: patient-derived olfactory stem cells: new models for brain diseases. Stem Cells 30(11):2361–2365. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Benítez-King G, Valdés-Tovar M, Trueta C, Galván-Arrieta T, Argueta J, Alarcón S, Lora-Castellanos A, Solís-Chagoyán H (2016) The microtubular cytoskeleton of olfactory neurons derived from patients with schizophrenia or with bipolar disorder: implications for biomarker characterization, neuronal physiology and pharmacological screening. Mol Cell Neurosci 73:84–95. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Borgmann-Winter K, Willard SL, Sinclair D, Mirza N, Turetsky B, Berretta S, Hahn CG (2015) Translational potential of olfactory mucosa for the study of neuropsychiatric illness. Transl Psychiatry 5(3):e527. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Borgmann-Winter KE, Rawson NE, Wang H-Y, Wang H, MacDonald ML, Ozdener MH, Yee KK, Gomez G et al (2009) Human olfactory epithelial cells generated in vitro express diverse neuronal characteristics. Neuroscience 158(2):642–653. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Breunig E, Manzini I, Piscitelli F, Gutermann B, di Marzo V, Schild D, Czesnik D (2010) The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol controls odor sensitivity in larvae of Xenopus laevis. J Neurosci 30(26):8965–8973. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hutch CR, Hillard CJ, Jia C, Hegg CC (2015) An endocannabinoid system is present in the mouse olfactory epithelium but does not modulate olfaction. Neuroscience 300:539–553. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    D’Souza DC, Cortes-Briones JA, Ranganathan M, Thurnauer H, Creatura G, Surti T, Planeta B, Neumeister A et al (2016) Rapid changes in cannabinoid 1 receptor availability in cannabis-dependent male subjects after abstinence from cannabis. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 1(1):60–67. CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hirvonen J, Goodwin RS, Li C-T, Terry GE, Zoghbi SS, Morse C, Pike VW, Volkow ND et al (2012) Reversible and regionally selective downregulation of brain cannabinoid CB1 receptors in chronic daily cannabis smokers. Mol Psychiatry 17(6):642–649. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ceccarini J, Kuepper R, Kemels D, van Os J, Henquet C, van Laere K (2015) [18F]MK-9470 PET measurement of cannabinoid CB1 receptor availability in chronic cannabis users. Addict Biol 20(2):357–367. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mizrahi R, Watts JJ, Tseng KY (2017) Mechanisms contributing to cognitive deficits in cannabis users. Neuropharmacology 124:84–88. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Walter C, Ferreirós N, Bishay P, Geisslinger G, Tegeder I, Lötsch J (2013) Exogenous delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol influences circulating endogenous cannabinoids in humans. J Clin Psychopharmacol 33(5):699–705. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Thieme U, Schelling G, Hauer D, Greif R, Dame T, Laubender RP, Bernhard W, Thieme D et al (2014) Quantification of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol plasma levels to examine potential influences of tetrahydrocannabinol application on the endocannabinoid system in humans. Drug Test Anal 6(1-2):17–23. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Salmon E (2007) A review of the literature on neuroimaging of serotoninergic function in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. J Neural Transm 114(9):1179–1185. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Muguruza C, Moreno JL, Umali A, Callado LF, Meana JJ, González-Maeso J (2013) Dysregulated 5-HT(2A) receptor binding in postmortem frontal cortex of schizophrenic subjects. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 23(8):852–864. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Zavitsanou K, Garrick T, Huang XF (2004) Selective antagonist [3H]SR141716A binding to cannabinoid CB1 receptors is increased in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia. Prog Neuro-Psychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 28(2):355–360. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. ArlingtonGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hamilton M (1960) A rating scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 23(1):56–62. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    First MB, Williams JBW, Karg RS, Spitzer RL (2015) Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 (SCID-5-RV). American Psychiatric Association, ArlingtonGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hollingshead AB, Redlich FC (1958) Social class and mental illness. Am J Psychiatry 112(3):179–185. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Torrens M, Serrano D, Astals M, Pérez-Domínguez G, Martín-Santos R (2004) Diagnosing comorbid psychiatric disorders in substance abusers: validity of the Spanish versions of the psychiatric research interview for substance and mental disorders and the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV. Am J Psychiatry 161(7):1231–1237. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Buchanan RW, Heinrichs DW (1989) The neurological evaluation scale (NES): a structured instrument for the assessment of neurological signs in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Res 27(3):335–350. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Endicott J, Spitzer RL, Fleiss JL, Cohen J (1976) The global assessment scale. A procedure for measuring overall severity of psychiatric disturbance. Arch Gen Psychiatry 33(6):766–771. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    CANTAB® [Cognitive assessment software]. Cambridge Cognition; 2017. All rights reserved. Accessed April 2015.
  36. 36.
    Wechsler D (1997) Escala de inteligencia de Wechsler para adultos-III. Madrid, TEA (Edición original, 1997)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Benton A, Hamsher K (1983) Multilingual aphasia exam 3rd edn. University of Iowa, Iowa CityGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Zhang X, Danaceau J, Chambers E (2016) Quantitative analysis of thc and its metabolites in whole blood using LC-MS/MS for toxicology and forensic laboratories. Waters application note. Accessed January 2017.
  39. 39.
    Benítez-King G, Riquelme A, Ortíz-López L, Berlanga C, Rodríguez-Verdugo MS, Romo F, Calixto E, Solís-Chagoyán H et al (2011) A non-invasive method to isolate the neuronal linage from the nasal epithelium from schizophrenic and bipolar diseases. J Neurosci Methods 201(1):35–45. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Galván-Arrieta T, Trueta C, Cercós MG, Valdés-Tovar M, Alarcón S, Oikawa J, Zamudio-Meza H, Benítez-King G (2017) The role of melatonin in the neurodevelopmental etiology of schizophrenia: a study in human olfactory neuronal precursors. J Pineal Res 63(3):e12421. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Serra SA, Fernàndez-Castillo N, Macaya A, Cormand B, Valverde MA, Fernández-Fernández JM (2009) The hemiplegic migraine-associated Y1245C mutation in CACNA1A results in a gain of channel function due to its effect on the voltage sensor and G-protein-mediated inhibition. Pflugers Arch 458(3):489–502. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Serra M, Brito C, Costa EM, Sousa MFQ, Alves PM (2009) Integrating human stem cell expansion and neuronal differentiation in bioreactors. BMC Biotechnol 9(1):82. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Moreno E, Moreno-Delgado D, Navarro G, Hoffmann HM, Fuentes S, Rosell-Vilar S, Gasperini P, Rodriguez-Ruiz M et al (2014) Cocaine disrupts histamine H3 receptor modulation of dopamine D1 receptor signaling: 1-D1-H3 receptor complexes as key targets for reducing Cocaine’s effects. J Neurosci 34(10):3545–3558. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Moreno E, Vaz SH, Cai N-S, Ferrada C, Quiroz C, Barodia SK, Kabbani N, Canela EI et al (2011) Dopamine-Galanin receptor heteromers modulate cholinergic neurotransmission in the rat ventral hippocampus. J Neurosci 31(20):7412–7423. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ortiz-López L, González-Olvera JJ, Vega-Rivera NM, García-Anaya M, Carapia-Hernández AK, Velázquez-Escobar JC, Ramírez-Rodríguez GB (2017) Human neural stem/progenitor cells derived from the olfactory epithelium express the TrkB receptor and migrate in response to BDNF. Neuroscience 355:84–100. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ferré S, Casadó V, Devi LA et al (2014) G protein-coupled receptor oligomerization revisited: functional and pharmacological perspectives. Pharmacol Rev 66(2):413–434. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Gomes I, Sierra S, Devi LA (2016) Detection of receptor heteromerization using in situ proximity ligation assay. Curr Protoc Pharmacol 75:2.16.1–2.16.31. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    D’Souza DC, Perry E, MacDougall L et al (2004) The psychotomimetic effects of intravenous delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in healthy individuals: implications for psychosis. Neuropsychopharmacology 29(8):1558–1572. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Huestis MA, Boyd SJ, Heishman SJ, Preston KL, Bonnet D, le Fur G, Gorelick DA (2007) Single and multiple doses of rimonabant antagonize acute effects of smoked cannabis in male cannabis users. Psychopharmacology 194(4):505–515. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Huestis MA, Henningfield JE, Cone EJ (1992) Blood cannabinoids. I. Absorption of THC and formation of 11-OH-THC and THCCOOH during and after smoking marijuana. J Anal Toxicol 16(5):276–282. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Viveros M-P, Marco EM, File SE (2006) Nicotine and cannabinoids: parallels, contrasts and interactions. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 30(8):1161–1181. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Castane A, Berrendero F, Maldonado R (2005) The role of the cannabinoid system in nicotine addiction. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 81(2):381–386. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Oz M, Al Kury L, Keun-Hang SY, Mahgoub M, Galadari S (2014) Cellular approaches to the interaction between cannabinoid receptor ligands and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Eur J Pharmacol 731:100–105. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Sweatt JD (2004) Mitogen-activated protein kinases in synaptic plasticity and memory. Curr Opin Neurobiol 14(3):311–317. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Bhattacharyya S, Schoeler T (2013) The effect of cannabis use on memory function: an update. Subst Abuse Rehabil 4:11. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Harvey JA (2003) Role of the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor in learning. Learn Mem 10(5):355–362. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Soria-Gómez E, Bellocchio L, Reguero L, Lepousez G, Martin C, Bendahmane M, Ruehle S, Remmers F et al (2014) The endocannabinoid system controls food intake via olfactory processes. Nat Neurosci 17(3):407–415. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Hardy A, Palouzier-Paulignan B, Duchamp A, Royet JP, Duchamp-Viret P (2005) 5-Hydroxytryptamine action in the rat olfactory bulb: in vitro electrophysiological patch-clamp recordings of juxtaglomerular and mitral cells. Neuroscience 131(3):717–731. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liliana Galindo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Estefanía Moreno
    • 3
    • 4
  • Fernando López-Armenta
    • 5
  • Daniel Guinart
    • 1
    • 7
    • 8
  • Aida Cuenca-Royo
    • 5
  • Mercè Izquierdo-Serra
    • 9
  • Laura Xicota
    • 5
  • Cristina Fernandez
    • 5
  • Esther Menoyo
    • 5
  • José M. Fernández-Fernández
    • 9
  • Gloria Benítez-King
    • 10
  • Enric I. Canela
    • 3
    • 4
  • Vicent Casadó
    • 3
    • 4
  • Víctor Pérez
    • 1
  • Rafael de la Torre
    • 5
    • 6
    • 11
  • Patricia Robledo
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Neuropsychiatry and Addictions Institute (INAD) of Parc de Salut Mar, Centro de Investigación Biomédica En Red de Salud Mental G21, Mental Health Research GroupIMIM-Hospital del Mar Research InstituteBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biomedicine, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Biomedicine of the University of BarcelonaUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Sobre Enfermedades NeurodegenerativasInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain
  5. 5.Integrative Pharmacology and Systems NeuroscienceIMIM-Hospital del Mar Research InstituteBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Department of Experimental and Health SciencesUniversity Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and Legal MedicineUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  8. 8.Zucker Hillside Hospital, Feinstein Institute for Medical ResearchNorthwell HealthNew YorkUSA
  9. 9.Laboratory of Molecular Physiology, Department of Experimental and Health SciencesUniversity Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  10. 10.Laboratorio de Neurofarmacología, Subdirección de Investigaciones ClínicasInstituto Nacional de Psiquiatría Ramón de la Fuente MuñizMexico CityMexico
  11. 11.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red-Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y NutriciónMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations