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Links between central CB1-receptor availability and peripheral endocannabinoids in patients with first episode psychosis

By Alex M. Dickens, Faith Borgan, Heikki Laurikainen, Santosh Lamichhane, Tiago Marques, Tuukka Rönkkö, Mattia Veronese, Tuomas Lindeman, METSY Investigators, Tuulia Hyotylainen, Oliver D Howes, Jarmo Hietala, Matej Oresic

Posted 09 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/664086 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41537-020-00110-7)

There is an established, albeit poorly-understood link between psychosis and metabolic abnormalities such as altered glucose metabolism and dyslipidemia, which often precede the initiation of antipsychotic treatment. It is known that obesity-associated metabolic disorders are promoted by peripheral activation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our recent data suggest that ECS dysregulation may also play a role in psychosis. With the aim of characterizing the involvement of the central and peripheral ECSs and their mutual associations, here we performed a combined neuroimaging and metabolomic study in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and healthy controls (HC). Regional brain cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R) availability was quantified in two, independent samples of patients with FEP (n=20 and n=8) and HC (n=20 and n=10), by applying 3D positron emission tomography (PET), using two radiotracers, [11C]MePPEP and [18F]FMPEP-d2. Ten endogenous endocannabinoids or related metabolites were quantified in serum, drawn from these individuals during the same imaging session. Circulating levels of arachidonic acid and oleyl ethanolamide were reduced in FEP individuals, but not in those who were predominantly medication-free. In HC, there was an inverse association between levels of circulating arachidonoyl glycerol, anandamide, oleyl ethanolamide and palmitoyl ethanolamide, and CB1R availability in the posterior cingulate cortex. This phenomenon was, however, not observed in FEP patients. Our data thus provide evidence of cross-talk and dysregulation between peripheral endocannabinoids and central CB1R availability in FEP.

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