Objectives: Feline chronic gingivostomatitis (FCGS) is an oral disease. Cats with FCGS experience intense oral pain. Some cats remain refractory to current therapies based on dental extraction and adjuvant medical treatment; it is therefore necessary to investigate alternative therapeutic targets involved in inflammatory mechanisms and pain, namely the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The present study investigated the expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1R) and 2 (CB2R), and cannabinoid-related receptors G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55), transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) and serotonin 1a receptor (5-HT1aR), in the oral mucosa of healthy cats to determine whether there was altered expression and distribution in cats with FCGS.
Methods: Samples of caudal oral mucosa were collected from eight control cats (CTRL cats) and from eight cats with FCGS (FCGS cats). Tissue samples were processed using an immunofluorescence assay with cat-specific antibodies, and the immunolabelling of the receptors studied was semiquantitatively evaluated.
Results: The mucosal epithelium of the CTRL cats showed CB1R, TRPA1 and 5-HT1aR immunoreactivity (IR), while CB2R and GPR55 IR were generally not expressed. In the CTRL cats, the subepithelial inflammatory cells expressed CB2R, GPR55 and 5-HT1aR IR. In the FCGS cats, all the receptors studied were markedly upregulated in the epithelium and inflammatory infiltrate.
Conclusions and relevance: Cannabinoid and cannabinoid-related receptors are widely expressed in the oral mucosa of healthy cats and are upregulated during the course of FCGS. The presence of cannabinoid and cannabinoid-related receptors in healthy tissues suggests the possible role of the ECS in the homeostasis of the feline oral mucosa, while their overexpression in the inflamed tissues of FCGS cats suggests the involvement of the ECS in the pathogenesis of this disease, with a possible role in the related inflammation and pain. Based on the present findings, ECS could be considered a potential therapeutic target for patients with FCGS.