Systemic administration of the G-protein–coupled receptor 18 (GPR18) agonist abnormal cannabidiol (Abn CBD) lowers blood pressure (BP). Whether GPR18 is expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) and plays a role in BP control is not known despite the abundance of the GPR18 ligand N-arachidonoyl glycine (NAGly) in the CNS. Therefore, we first determined whether GPR18 is expressed in the presympathetic tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactive (ir) neurons of the brainstem cardiovascular regulatory nuclei. Second, we investigated the impact of GPR18 activation and blockade on BP and heart rate (HR) and neurochemical modulators of sympathetic activity and BP. Immunofluorescence findings revealed GPR18 expression in TH-ir neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). Intra-RVLM GPR18 activation (Abn CBD) and blockade (O-1918, 1,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-2-[(1R,6R)-3-methyl-6-(1-methylethenyl)-2-,cyclohexen-1-yl]benzene) elicited dose-dependent reductions and elevations in BP, respectively, along with respective increases and decreases in HR in conscious male Sprague-Dawley rats. RVLM GPR18 activation increased neuronal adiponectin (ADN) and NO and reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, and GPR18 blockade reduced neuronal ADN and increased oxidative stress (i.e., ROS) in the RVLM. Finally, we hypothesized that the negligible hypotensive effect caused by the endogenous GPR18 ligand NAGly could be due to concurrent activation of CB1R in the RVLM. Our findings support this hypothesis because NAGly-evoked hypotension was doubled after RVLM CB1R blockade (SR141716, rimonabant). These findings are the first to demonstrate GPR18 expression in the RVLM and to suggest a sympathoinhibitory role for this receptor. The findings yield new insight into the role of a novel cannabinoid receptor (GPR18) in central BP control.
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