Cannabinoid withdrawal is dependent upon PKA activation in the cerebellum

Eur J Neurosci. 2000 Mar;12(3):1038-46. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2000.00971.x.


Region-specific up-regulation of the cyclic AMP pathway is considered an important molecular mechanism in the origin of the somatic manifestations of the withdrawal syndrome to known drugs of abuse. Nevertheless, the existence of a withdrawal syndrome after prolonged cannabinoid administration has long been a controversial issue. Recent studies, in different species, have shown that withdrawal to prolonged cannabinoid exposure precipitated by the cannabinoid antagonist SR141716A is characterized by physical signs underlying impairment of motor coordination. Interestingly, cannabinoid withdrawal is accompanied by an increase of adenylyl cyclase activity in the cerebellum. Here, we investigate the functional role of the cyclic AMP pathway in the cerebellum in the establishment of cannabinoid withdrawal. We show that after SR141716A precipitation of cannabinoid withdrawal, basal and calcium-calmodulin-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activities as well as active PKA in the cerebellum increase in a transient manner with a temporal profile which matches that of the somatic expression of abstinence. Selectively blocking the up-regulation of the cyclic AMP pathway in the cerebellum, by microinfusing the cyclic AMP blocker Rp-8Br-cAMPS in this region, markedly reduced both PKA activation and the somatic expression of cannabinoid withdrawal. Our results (i) directly link the behavioural manifestations of cannabinoid withdrawal with the up-regulation of the cyclic AMP pathway in the cerebellum, pointing towards common molecular adaptive mechanisms for dependence and withdrawal to most drugs of abuse; (ii) suggest a particular role for the cerebellum as a major neurobiological substrate for cannabinoid withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 8-Bromo Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate / administration & dosage
  • 8-Bromo Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate / pharmacology
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Cerebellum / enzymology*
  • Cyclic AMP / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects*
  • Dronabinol / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects*
  • Hallucinogens / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Injections
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Drug / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Rimonabant
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / enzymology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Hallucinogens
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Receptors, Drug
  • 8-Bromo Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Dronabinol
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Rimonabant