Anandamide and decidual remodelling: COX-2 oxidative metabolism as a key regulator.Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Nov; 1851(11):1473-81.BB
Recently, endocannabinoids have emerged as signalling mediators in reproduction. It is widely accepted that anandamide (AEA) levels must be tightly regulated, and that a disturbance in AEA levels may impact decidual stability and regression. We have previously characterized the endocannabinoid machinery in rat decidual tissue and reported the pro-apoptotic action of AEA on rat decidual cells. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an inducible enzyme that plays a crucial role in early pregnancy, and is also a key modulator in the crosstalk between endocannabinoids and prostaglandins. On the other hand, AEA-oxidative metabolism by COX-2 is not merely a mean to inactivate its action, but it yields the formation of a new class of mediators, named prostaglandin-ethanolamides, or prostamides. In this study we found that AEA-induced apoptosis in decidual cells involves COX-2 metabolic pathway. AEA induced COX-2 expression through p38 MAPK, resulting in the formation of prostamide E2 (PME2). Our findings also suggest that AEA-induced effect is associated with NF-kB activation. Finally, we describe the involvement of PME2 in the induction of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in rat decidual cells. Altogether, our findings highlight the role of COX-2 as a gatekeeper in the uterine environment and clarify the impact of the deregulation of AEA levels on the decidual remodelling process.