In humans, chronic anxiety represents an independent risk factor for cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death. Here we evaluate in male Wistar rats bred for high (HAB) and low (LAB) anxiety-related behavior, as well as non-selected (NAB) animals, the relationship between trait anxiety and cardiac electrical instability and investigate whether pharmacological augmentation of endocannabinoid anandamide-mediated signaling exerts anxiolytic-like and cardioprotective effects. HAB rats displayed (i) a higher incidence of ventricular tachyarrhythmias induced by isoproterenol, and (ii) a larger spatial dispersion of ventricular refractoriness assessed by means of an epicardial mapping protocol. In HAB rats, acute pharmacological inhibition of the anandamide-degrading enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), with URB694 (0.3 mg/kg), (i) decreased anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze, (ii) increased anandamide levels in the heart, (iii) reduced isoproterenol-induced occurrence of ventricular tachyarrhythmias, and (iv) corrected alterations of ventricular refractoriness. The anti-arrhythmic effect of URB694 was prevented by pharmacological blockade of the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1), but not of the CB2, receptor. These findings suggest that URB694 exerts anxiolytic-like and cardioprotective effects in HAB rats, the latter via anandamide-mediated activation of CB1 receptors. Thus, pharmacological inhibition of FAAH might be a viable pharmacological strategy for the treatment of anxiety-related cardiac dysfunction.
Cardioprotective effects of fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor URB694, in a rodent model of trait anxiety / Carnevali, Luca; Vacondio, Federica; Rossi, Stefano; Macchi, Emilio; Spadoni, G; Bedini, A; Neumann, Id; Rivara, Silvia; Mor, Marco; Sgoifo, Andrea. - In: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS. - ISSN 2045-2322. - 5:(2015), p. 18218. [10.1038/srep18218]