Background: In a previous report, we have identified the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonist HU308 to possess a beneficial effect in preventing age and trauma-induced osteoarthritis (OA) in mice. The effects of HU308 were largely related to the capacity of this compound to induce cartilage anabolism which was dependent on the CREB/SOX9 axis, and exhibited pro-survival and pro-proliferative hallmarks of articular cartilage following treatment. Here, we utilized the novel cannabinoid-fenchone CB2 agonists (1B, 1D), which were previously reported to render anti-inflammatory effects in a zymosan model. Methods: Initially, we assessed the selectivity of CB2 using a Gs-protein receptor cAMP potency assay, which was also validated for antagonistic effects dependent on the Gi-protein receptor cAMP pathway. Based on EC50 values, 1D was selected for a zymosan inflammatory pain model. Next, 1D was administered in two doses intra-articularly (IA), in a post-traumatic medial meniscal tear (MMT, Lewis rats) model, and compared to sham, vehicle, and a positive control consisting of fibroblast growth factor 18 (FGF18) administration. The histopathological assessment was carried out according to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) guidelines for rat models following 28 days post-MMT. Results: The G protein receptor assays confirmed that both 1B and 1D possess CB2 agonistic effects in cell lines and in chondrocytes. Co-administering a CB2 antagonists to 25 mg/kg 1D in a paw inflammatory pain model abolished 1D-related anti-swelling effect and partially abolishing its analgesic effects. Using an MMT model, the high dose (i.e., 24 µg) of 1D administered via IA route, exhibited reduced cartilage damage. Particularly, this dose of 1D exhibited a 30% improvement in cartilage degeneration (zonal/total tibial scores) and lesion depth ratios (44%), comparable to the FGF18 positive control. Synovitis scores remained unaffected and histopathologic evaluation of subchondral bone damage did not suggest that 1D treatment changed the load-bearing ability of the rats. Contrary to the anabolic effect of FGF18, synovial inflammation was observed and was accompanied by increased osteophyte size. Conclusion: The structural histopathological analysis supports a disease-modifying effect of IA-administered 1D compound without any deleterious effects on the joint structure.
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- fenchone derivatives
- joint structure