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Anandamide Uptake Is Consistent With Rate-limited Diffusion And Is Regulated By The Degree Of Its Hydrolysis By Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase*

M. Kaczocha, Anita Hermann, S. Glaser, I. Bojesen, D. Deutsch
Published 2006 · Chemistry, Medicine

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The uptake of arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide, AEA) in rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL-2H3) has been proposed to occur via a saturable transporter that is blocked by specific inhibitors. Measuring uptake at 25 s, when fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) does not appreciably affect uptake, AEA accumulated via a nonsaturable mechanism at 37 °C. Interestingly, saturation was observed when uptake was plotted using unbound AEA at 37 °C. Such apparent saturation can be explained by rate-limited delivery of AEA through an unstirred water layer surrounding the cells (1). In support of this, we observed kinetics consistent with rate-limited diffusion at 0 °C. Novel transport inhibitors have been synthesized that are either weak FAAH inhibitors or do not inhibit FAAH in vitro (e.g. UCM707, OMDM2, and AM1172). In the current study, none of these purported AEA transporter inhibitors affected uptake at 25 s. Longer incubation times illuminate downstream events that drive AEA uptake. Unlike the situation at 25 s, the efficacy of these inhibitors was unmasked at 5 min with appreciable inhibition of AEA accumulation correlating with partial inhibition of AEA hydrolysis. The uptake and hydrolysis profiles observed with UCM707, VDM11, OMDM2, and AM1172 mirrored two selective and potent FAAH inhibitors CAY10400 and URB597 (at low concentrations), indicating that weak inhibition of FAAH can have a pronounced effect upon AEA uptake. At 5 min, the putative transport inhibitors did not reduce AEA uptake in FAAH chemical knock-out cells. This strongly suggests that the target of UCM707, VDM11, OMDM2, and AM1172 is not a transporter at the plasma membrane but rather FAAH, or an uncharacterized intracellular component that delivers AEA to FAAH. This system is therefore unique among neuro/immune modulators because AEA, an uncharged hydrophobic molecule, diffuses into cells and partial inhibition of FAAH has a pronounced effect upon its uptake.
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