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Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 13;172:139-52. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.10.031. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Maternal exposure to the CB1 cannabinoid agonist WIN 55212-2 produces robust changes in motor function and intrinsic electrophysiological properties of cerebellar Purkinje neurons in rat offspring.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Centre and Department of Physiology, Medical School, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Evin, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.


The cerebellum, which controls coordinated and rapid movements, is a potential target for the deleterious effects of drugs of abuse including cannabis (i.e. marijuana, cannabinoids). Prenatal exposure to cannabinoids has been documented to cause abnormalities in motor and cognitive development, but the exact mechanism of this effect at the cellular level has not been fully elucidated. Previous studies indicate that cannabinoids are capable of modulating synaptic neurotransmission. In addition to altering synaptic activity, cannabinoid exposure may also change intrinsic neuronal properties. In the present study several different approaches including behavioral assays, extracellular field potential recordings and whole-cell patch clamp recordings, were used to address whether maternal exposure to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55-212-2 (WIN) affects the intrinsic electrophysiological properties of Purkinje neurons. WIN treatment of pregnant rats produced a significant decrease in the rearing frequency, total distance moved and mobility of the offspring, but significantly increased the time of the righting reflex, the grooming frequency and immobility. Neuromotor function, as assessed in the grip test and balance beam test, was also significantly impaired in prenatally WIN-treated group. Prenatal exposure to WIN increased the amplitude of population spikes (PS) recorded from the cerebellar Purkinje cell layer of offspring following synaptic blockage. WIN treatment of pregnant rats also profoundly affected the intrinsic properties of Purkinje neurons in offspring. This treatment increased the firing regularity, firing frequency, amplitude of afterhyperpolarization (AHP), the peak amplitude of action potential and the first spike latency, but decreased significantly the time to peak and duration of action potentials, the instantaneous firing frequency, the rate of rebound action potential and the voltage "sag" ratio. These results raise the possibility that maternal exposure to cannabinoids may profoundly affect the intrinsic membrane properties of cerebellar Purkinje neurons of offspring by altering the membrane excitability through modulation of intrinsic ion channels.

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