Does the Endocannabinoid Anandamide Affect Bacterial Quorum Sensing, Vitality, and Motility?

Liat Friedman, Reem Smoum, Mark Feldman*, Raphael Mechoulam, Doron Steinberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) is a neurotransmitter produced and released "on demand." Numerous studies have been conducted on AEA and on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), but none of them have investigated their effect on prokaryotes. Quorum sensing (QS) is a process of bacteria-bacteria communication. In this cross-Talk, the bacteria secrete and recognize signal molecules termed autoinducers (AIs). It has been shown that the QS system regulates expression of many physiological and virulence factors of bacteria. Materials and Methods: QS was measured using the bioluminescence property of the bacterium Vibrio harveyi. The effect of AEA on QS-related gene expression was measured using real-Time polymerase chain reaction. 0.18% agar plates were used for surface movement assay. Results: No dose response of AEA could be determined up to 100 μg/mL on bacterial growth either wild-Type (WT) V. harveyi or mutant strains. However on addition of AEA, QS was reduced significantly for WT and other V. harveyi strains mutated at different locations of the QS cascade (BB152; HAI-1 synthase mutant, BB886; Sensor-2-, BB170; Sensor-1-, MM30; AI-2). Genes related to the QS pathway, such as luxS, showed significant reduction in expression in the presence of AEA. Motility tests showed that continuous exposure to AEA reduced V. harveyi ability to spread on a soft agar surface, but pre-exposure to AEA did not have any effect on its motility. Conclusions: This study presents the first evidence that the endocannabinoid AEA affects specific functions of a prokaryotic organism (e.g., QS and motility). Our results present novel, not yet been observed biological functions of the ECS, namely as a possible line of defense against bacteria.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalCannabis and Cannabinoid Research
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported in part by the chief scientist of the Israeli Agriculture Ministry. Steinberg holds the H. Leslie Levine Chair in Oral Pathology and Dental Medicine.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019.

Keywords

  • anandamide
  • bacterial mobility
  • endocannabinoids
  • host defense system
  • quorum sensing

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