Pharmacology of the intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering effect of systemic dexanabinol (HU-211), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid

Mark Beilin, Ron Neumann, Michael Belkin, Keith Green, Amir Bar-Ilan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to characterize the intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering activity and possible mechanism of action of the synthetic, non-psychotropic cannabinoid dexanabinol (HU-211) [(+)(3S,4S), 7-hydroxy-Δ- 6-tetrahydrocannabinol 1, 1 dimethylheptyl], following intravenous (i.v.) administration in the rabbit, IOP (pneumatonometry), aqueous humor inflow rate (fluorophotometry), blood pressure, and heart rate (computerized physiograph system connected to central ear artery cannula) were measured in unanesthetized albino rabbits. Intravenous administration of HU-211 resulted in a dose-related reduction in IOP; a maximal IOP reduction of 5.0 ± 0.2 mmHg was observed 4 hr after a 0.5 mg/kg dose. No significant changes in blood pressure or heart rate were observed during the first hr following this dose of HU-211. Pupil diameter did not change significantly during the 5 hr following the 0.5 mg/kg i.v. dose. No significant change in the rate of aqueous humor inflow occurred during the 6 hr after a 0.5 mg/kg dose of HU- 211, thereby implicating outflow changes as the major source of IOP reduction. IOP reduction by HU-211 following pre-treatment with the α2 adrenergic antagonist, yohimbine (1 mg/kg, i.v.), was only 30% of that of HU- 211 alone. IOP reduction following pretreatment with the α2 agonist, clonidine (0.5 mg/kg i.v.), was twice as large as that of HU-211 alone. Pretreatment with the β-adrenergic antagonist, propranolol (0.5 mg/kg i.v.), resulted in a 50% reduction in the IOP-lowering effect of HU-211. In summary, HU-211, administered i.v., is an effective IOP-lowering agent, devoid of any significant side effects (blood pressure, heart rate or pupil diameter, all of which have been reported previously for cannabinoids). Involvement of the adrenergic system is indicated in mediating the IOP-lowering effects of HU- 211 that appear to reflect a change in fluid outflow from the eye.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes


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