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Neuroscience. 2010 Sep 15;169(4):1651-61. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.06.011. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

Relationship of cannabinoid CB1 receptor and cholecystokinin immunoreactivity in monkey dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Exposure to cannabis impairs cognitive functions reliant on the circuitry of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and increases the risk of schizophrenia. The actions of cannabis are mediated via the brain cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R), which in rodents is heavily localized to the axon terminals of cortical GABA basket neurons that contain cholecystokinin (CCK). Differences in the laminar distribution of CB1R-immunoreactive (IR) axons have been reported between rodent and monkey neocortex, suggesting that the cell type(s) containing CB1Rs, and the synaptic targets of CB1R-IR axon terminals, may differ across species; however, neither the relationship of CB1Rs to CCK-containing interneurons, nor the postsynaptic targets of CB1R and CCK axon terminals, have been examined in primate DLPFC. Consequently, we compared the distribution patterns of CB1R- and CCK-IR structures, determined the proportions of CB1R and CCK neurons that were dual-labeled, and identified the synaptic types and postsynaptic targets of CB1R- and CCK-IR axon terminals in macaque monkey DLPFC. By light microscopy, CB1R- and CCK-IR axons exhibited a similar laminar distribution, with their greatest densities in layer 4. Dual-label fluorescence experiments demonstrated that 91% of CB1R-IR neurons were immunopositive for CCK, whereas only 51% of CCK-IR neurons were immunopositive for CB1R. By electron microscopy, all synapses formed by CB1R-IR axon terminals were symmetric, whereas CCK-IR axon terminals formed both symmetric (88%) and asymmetric (12%) synapses. The primary postsynaptic target of both CB1R- and CCK-IR axon terminals forming symmetric synapses was dendritic shafts (81-88%), with the remainder targeting cell bodies or dendritic spines. Thus, despite species differences in laminar distribution, CB1Rs are principally localized to CCK basket neuron axons in both rodent neocortex and monkey DLPFC. These axons target the perisomatic region of pyramidal neurons, providing a potential anatomical substrate for the impaired function of the DLPFC associated with cannabis use and schizophrenia.

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