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J Neurophysiol. 2003 Apr;89(4):2334-8.

Endocannabinoids mediate rapid retrograde signaling at interneuron right-arrow pyramidal neuron synapses of the neocortex.

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Department of Pharmacology and Program in Neuroscience, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


In the neocortex, inhibitory interneurons tightly regulate the firing patterns and integrative properties of pyramidal neurons (PNs). The endocannabinoid system of the neocortex may play an important role in the activity-dependent regulation of inhibitory (i.e., GABAergic) inputs received by PNs. In the present study, using whole cell recordings from layer 2/3 PNs in slices of mouse sensory cortex, we have identified a role for PN-derived endocannabinoids in the control of afferent inhibitory strength. Pairing evoked inhibitory currents with repeated epochs of postsynaptic depolarization led to a transient suppression of inhibition that was induced by a rise in postsynaptic Ca(2+) and was expressed as a reduction in presynaptic GABA release. An antagonist (AM251) of the type-1 cannabinoid receptor blocked the depolarization-induced suppression of evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents (eIPSCs), and the cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 reduced eIPSC amplitude and occluded suppression. The degree of WIN55,212-2-mediated inhibition of eIPSCs was strongly correlated with the magnitude of depolarization-induced suppression of the eIPSCs, suggesting that the WIN-sensitive afferents are suppressed by PN depolarization. Moreover, blocking endocannabinoid uptake with AM404 strongly modulated the kinetics and magnitude of eIPSC suppression. We conclude that the release of endocannabinoids from PNs allows for the postsynaptic control of presynaptic inhibition and could have profound consequences for the integrative properties of neocortical PNs.

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