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J Neurosci. 2006 Mar 15;26(11):2991-3001.

The CB1 cannabinoid receptor is the major cannabinoid receptor at excitatory presynaptic sites in the hippocampus and cerebellum.

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Department of Cellular Neuroscience, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita 565-0871, Japan.


Endocannabinoids work as retrograde messengers and contribute to short-term and long-term modulation of synaptic transmission via presynaptic cannabinoid receptors. It is generally accepted that the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) mediates the effects of endocannabinoid in inhibitory synapses. For excitatory synapses, however, contributions of CB1, "CB3," and some other unidentified receptors have been suggested. In the present study we used electrophysiological and immunohistochemical techniques and examined the type(s) of cannabinoid receptor functioning at hippocampal and cerebellar excitatory synapses. Our electrophysiological data clearly demonstrate the predominant contribution of CB1. At hippocampal excitatory synapses on pyramidal neurons the cannabinoid-induced synaptic suppression was reversed by a CB1-specific antagonist, N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (AM251), and was absent in CB1 knock-out mice. At climbing fiber (CF) and parallel fiber (PF) synapses on cerebellar Purkinje cells the cannabinoid-dependent suppression was absent in CB1 knock-out mice. The presence of CB1 at presynaptic terminals was confirmed by immunohistochemical experiments with specific antibodies against CB1. In immunoelectron microscopy the densities of CB1-positive signals in hippocampal excitatory terminals and cerebellar PF terminals were much lower than in inhibitory terminals but were clearly higher than the background. Along the long axis of PFs, the CB1 was localized at a much higher density on the perisynaptic membrane than on the extrasynaptic and synaptic regions. In contrast, CB1 density was low in CF terminals and was not significantly higher than the background. Despite the discrepancy between the electrophysiological and morphological data for CB1 expression on CFs, these results collectively indicate that CB1 is responsible for cannabinoid-dependent suppression of excitatory transmission in the hippocampus and cerebellum.

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