Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT1A somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus

E. M. Rock, D. Bolognini, C. L. Limebeer, M. G. Cascio, S. Anavi-Goffer, P. J. Fletcher, R. Mechoulam, R. G. Pertwee, L. A. Parker

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To evaluate the hypothesis that activation of somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) produces the anti-emetic/anti-nausea effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a primary non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.


The potential of systemic and intra-DRN administration of 5-HT1A receptor antagonists, WAY100135 or WAY100635, to prevent the anti-emetic effect of CBD in shrews (Suncus murinus) and the anti-nausea-like effects of CBD (conditioned gaping) in rats were evaluated. Also, the ability of intra-DRN administration of CBD to produce anti-nausea-like effects (and reversal by systemic WAY100635) was assessed. In vitro studies evaluated the potential of CBD to directly target 5-HT1A receptors and to modify the ability of the 5-HT1A agonist, 8-OH-DPAT, to stimulate [S-35]GTP gamma S binding in rat brainstem membranes.


CBD suppressed nicotine-, lithium chloride (LiCl)- and cisplatin (20, but not 40 vomiting in the S. murinus and LiCl-induced conditioned gaping in rats. Anti-emetic and anti-nausea-like effects of CBD were suppressed by WAY100135 and the latter by WAY100635. When administered to the DRN: (i) WAY100635 reversed anti-nausea-like effects of systemic CBD, and (ii) CBD suppressed nausea-like effects, an effect that was reversed by systemic WAY100635. CBD also displayed significant potency (in a bell-shaped dose-response curve) at enhancing the ability of 8-OH-DPAT to stimulate [35S] GTPgS binding to rat brainstem membranes in vitro. Systemically administered CBD and 8-OH-DPAT synergistically suppressed LiCl-induced conditioned gaping.


These results suggest that CBD produced its anti-emetic/anti-nausea effects by indirect activation of the somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors in the DRN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2620-2634
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number8
Early online date23 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012



  • cannabidiol
  • 5-HT1A
  • endocannabinoid
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shrew
  • rat
  • taste reactivity
  • gaping
  • conditioned disgust
  • emesis
  • conditioned rejection reactions
  • cisplatin-inuced emesis
  • motion-induced emesis
  • house musk shrew
  • taste avoidance
  • suncus-murinus
  • CB1 receptors
  • constituent cannabidiol
  • allosteric modulation
  • disgust reactions

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