Cannabinoid-1 receptor activation modulates lipid mobilization and adipogenesis in the adipose tissue of dairy cows

Madison N. Myers, Ursula Abou-Rjeileh, Miguel Chirivi, Jair Parales-Girón, Adam L. Lock, Joseph Tam, Maya Zachut, G. Andres Contreras*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Amplified adipose tissue (AT) lipolysis and suppressed lipogenesis characterize the periparturient period of dairy cows. The intensity of lipolysis recedes with the progression of lactation; however, when lipolysis is excessive and prolonged, disease risk is exacerbated and productivity compromised. Interventions that minimize lipolysis while maintaining adequate supply of energy and enhancing lipogenesis may improve periparturient cows' health and lactation performance. Cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1R) activation in rodent AT enhances the lipogenic and adipogenic capacity of adipocytes, yet the effects in dairy cow AT remain unknown. Using a synthetic CB1R agonist and an antagonist, we determined the effects of CB1R stimulation on lipolysis, lipogenesis, and adipogenesis in the AT of dairy cows. Adipose tissue explants were collected from healthy, nonlactating and nongestating (NLNG; n = 6) or periparturient (n = 12) cows at 1 wk before parturition and at 2 and 3 wk postpartum (PP1 and PP2, respectively). Explants were treated with the β-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol (1 μM) in the presence of the CB1R agonist arachidonyl-2′-chloroethylamide (ACEA) ± the CB1R antagonist rimonabant (RIM). Lipolysis was quantified based on glycerol release. We found that ACEA reduced lipolysis in NLNG cows; however, it did not exhibit a direct effect on AT lipolysis in periparturient cows. Inhibition of CB1R with RIM in postpartum cow AT did not alter lipolysis. To evaluate adipogenesis and lipogenesis, preadipocytes isolated from NLNG cows' AT were induced to differentiate in the presence or absence of ACEA ± RIM for 4 and 12 d. Live cell imaging, lipid accumulation, and expressions of key adipogenic and lipogenic markers were assessed. Preadipocytes treated with ACEA had higher adipogenesis, whereas ACEA+RIM reduced it. Adipocytes treated with ACEA and RIM for 12 d exhibited enhanced lipogenesis compared with untreated cells (control). Lipid content was reduced in ACEA+RIM but not with RIM alone. Collectively, our results support that lipolysis may be reduced by CB1R stimulation in NLNG cows but not in periparturient cows. In addition, our findings demonstrate that adipogenesis and lipogenesis are enhanced by activation of CB1R in the AT of NLNG dairy cows. In summary, we provide initial evidence which supports that the sensitivity of the AT endocannabinoid system to endocannabinoids, and its ability to modulate AT lipolysis, adipogenesis, and lipogenesis, vary based on dairy cows' lactation stage.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3650-3661
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

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© 2023 American Dairy Science Association


  • adipose tissue
  • endocannabinoid system
  • lipid metabolism


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