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Pharmacogenomics J. 2008 Jun;8(3):196-208. Epub 2007 Aug 7.

Impaired cannabinoid receptor type 1 signaling interferes with stress-coping behavior in mice.

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


Dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system is known to interfere with emotional processing of stressful events. Here, we studied the role of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) signaling in stress-coping behaviors using the forced swim test (FST) with repeated exposures. We compared effects of genetic inactivation with pharmacological blockade of CB1 receptors both in male and female mice. In addition, we investigated potential interactions of the endocannabinoid system with monoaminergic and neurotrophin systems of the brain. Naive CB1 receptor-deficient mice (CB1-/-) showed increased passive stress-coping behaviors as compared to wild-type littermates (CB1+/+) in the FST, independent of sex. These findings were partially reproduced in C57BL/6N animals and fully reproduced in female CB1+/+ mice by pharmacological blockade of CB1 receptors with the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716. The specificity of SR141716 was confirmed in female CB1-/- mice, where it failed to affect behavioral performance. Sensitivity to the antidepressants desipramine and paroxetine was preserved, but slightly altered in female CB1-/- mice. There were no genotype differences between CB1+/+ and CB1-/- mice in monoamine oxidase A and B activities under basal conditions, nor in monoamine content of hippocampal tissue after FST exposure. mRNA expression of vesicular glutamate transporter type 1 was unaffected in CB1-/- mice, but mRNA expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was reduced in the hippocampus. Our results suggest that impaired CB1 receptor function promotes passive stress-coping behavior, which, at least in part, might relate to alterations in BDNF function.

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