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Neuroscience. 2011 Oct 13;193:21-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.07.055. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol mediates D1 and D2 receptor cooperative enhancement of rat nucleus accumbens core neuron firing.

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  • 1Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Neurology, 5858 Horton Street, Suite 200, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


Many motivated and addiction-related behaviors are sustained by activity of both dopamine D1- and D2-type receptors (D1Rs and D2Rs) as well as CB1 receptors (CB1Rs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Here, we use in vitro whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology to describe an endocannabinoid (eCB)-dopamine receptor interaction in adult rat NAc core neurons. D1R and D2R agonists in combination enhanced firing, with no effect of a D1R or D2R agonist alone. This D1R+D2R-mediated firing increase required CB1Rs, since it was prevented by the CB1R antagonists AM251 and Rimonabant. The D1R+D2R firing increase also required phospholipase C (PLC), the major synthesis pathway for the eCB 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and one of several pathways for anandamide. Further, inhibition of 2-AG hydrolysis with the monoglyceride lipase (MGL) inhibitor JZL184 allowed subthreshold levels of D1R+D2R receptor agonists to enhance firing, while inhibition of anandamide hydrolysis with the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitors URB597 or AM3506 did not. Filling the postsynaptic neuron with 2-AG enabled subthreshold D1R+D2R agonists to increase firing, and the 2AG+D1R+D2R increase in firing was prevented by a CB1R antagonist. Also, the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) blocker MPEP prevented the ability of JZL184 to promote subthreshold D1R+D2R enhancement of firing, while the 2-AG+D1R+D2R increase in firing was not prevented by the mGluR5 blocker, suggesting that mGluR5s acted upstream of 2-AG production. Thus, our results taken together are consistent with the hypothesis that NAc core eCBs mediate dopamine receptor (DAR) enhancement of firing, perhaps providing a cellular mechanism underlying the central role of NAc core D1Rs, D2Rs, CB1Rs, and mGluR5s during many drug-seeking behaviors.

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