BACKGROUND:Long-term exposure to stress has been demonstrated to cause neuroinflammation through a sustained overproduction of free radicals, including nitric oxide, via an increased inducible nitric oxide synthase activity. We previously demonstrated that inducible nitric oxide synthase activity and mRNA are significantly upregulated in the rat hippocampus following just 4 hours of restraint stress. Similar to nitric oxide, endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand, with preclinical observations suggesting that cannabinoid receptor agonists and endocannabinoid enhancers inhibit nitrergic activity. Specifically, previous work has shown that enhancement of endocannabinoids via inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase with PF-3845 reduced inducible nitric oxide synthase-expressing microglia following traumatic brain injury. However, this describes cannabinoid modulation following physical injury, and therefore the present study aimed to examine the effects of PF-3845 in the modulation of nitrergic and inflammatory-related genes within the hippocampus after acute stress exposure. METHODS:Following vehicle or PF-3845 injections (5 mg/kg; i.p.), male Wistar rats were exposed to 0 (control), 60, 240, or 360 minutes of restraint stress after which plasma and dorsal hippocampus were isolated for further biochemical and gene expression analysis. RESULTS:The results demonstrate that pretreatment with PF-3845 rapidly ameliorates plasma corticosterone release at 60 minutes of stress. An increase in endocannabinoid signalling also induces an overall attenuation in inducible nitric oxide synthase, tumor necrosis factor-alpha convertase, interleukin-6, cyclooxygenase-2, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma mRNA, and the transactivation potential of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells in the hippocampus. CONCLUSIONS:These results suggest that enhanced endocannabinoid levels in the dorsal hippocampus have an overall antinitrosative and antiinflammatory effect following acute stress exposure.