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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Jan;35(2):374-87. doi: 10.1038/npp.2009.141.

Voluntary exercise and sucrose consumption enhance cannabinoid CB1 receptor sensitivity in the striatum.

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  • 1Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


The endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of the central reward pathway. Running wheel and sucrose consumption have rewarding and reinforcing properties in rodents, and share many neurochemical and behavioral characteristics with drug addiction. In this study, we investigated whether running wheel or sucrose consumption altered the sensitivity of striatal synapses to the activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors. We found that cannabinoid CB1 receptor-mediated presynaptic control of striatal inhibitory postsynaptic currents was remarkably potentiated after these environmental manipulations. In contrast, the sensitivity of glutamate synapses to CB1 receptor stimulation was unaltered, as well as that of GABA synapses to the stimulation of presynaptic GABAB receptors. The sensitization of cannabinoid CB1 receptor-mediated responses was slowly reversible after the discontinuation of running wheel or sucrose consumption, and was also detectable following the mobilization of endocannabinoids by metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 stimulation. Finally, we found that the upregulation of cannabinoid transmission induced by wheel running or sucrose had a crucial role in the protective effects of these environmental manipulations against the motor and synaptic consequences of stress.

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