Inflammation and oxidative stress are key mediators in AKB48-induced neurotoxicity in vitro.


Istanbul University, Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Toxicology, Beyazıt, 34116 Istanbul, Turkey. Electronic address: [Email]


Synthetic cannabinoids were introduced into market in early 2000s; since these "legal highs" are dramatically popular among youth, it becomes a deadly problem. Synthetic cannabinoids have high affinity to cannabinoid receptors; leading to various clinical symptoms. AKB48 (Apinaca) has been classified as a third-generation synthetic cannabinoid for the first time in 2014. The toxicity profile of AKB48 is unclear due to little information that mainly obtained from clinical and forensic cases; however, it is believed to be similar with other psychoactive substances. Thus, we aimed to investigate the possible toxicity mechanisms of AKB48 in SH-SY5Y (human bone marrow neuroblastoma) cell line. IC50 value of AKB48 was calculated as 160.91 μM by MTT assay. AKB48 treatment enhanced (≥1.2-fold) the fluorescence intensity indicating increased reactive oxygen species production; however, glutathione levels did not changed in the range of 25-200 μM exposure concentrations. Cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1) expression was increased ≥15-fold in the range of 25-50 μM of AKB48, while cannabinoid type-2 receptor (CB2) did not expressed in SH-SY5Y cells. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF- α) were up-regulated with a dose-dependent manner, and the profiles were almost identical; however, mitogen-activated protein kinase 8 (MAPK 8) was only upregulated with 25 μM of AKB48 and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-ĸB) did not change. Our results should raise the concerns about the safety associated with synthetic cannabinoids uses.


AKB48,Apoptosis,Oxidative damage,SH-SY5Y cell line,

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