Retrograde inhibition of presynaptic calcium influx by endogenous cannabinoids at excitatory synapses onto Purkinje cells

Neuron. 2001 Mar;29(3):717-27. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00246-x.


Brief depolarization of cerebellar Purkinje cells was found to inhibit parallel fiber and climbing fiber EPSCs for tens of seconds. This depolarization-induced suppression of excitation (DSE) is accompanied by altered paired-pulse plasticity, suggesting a presynaptic locus. Fluorometric imaging revealed that postsynaptic depolarization also reduces presynaptic calcium influx. The inhibition of both presynaptic calcium influx and EPSCs is eliminated by buffering postsynaptic calcium with BAPTA. The cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 prevents DSE, and the agonist WIN 55,212-2 occludes DSE. These findings suggest that Purkinje cells release endogenous cannabinoids in response to elevated calcium, thereby inhibiting presynaptic calcium entry and suppressing transmitter release. DSE may provide a way for cells to use their firing rate to dynamically regulate synaptic inputs. Together with previous studies, these findings suggest a widespread role for endogenous cannabinoids in retrograde synaptic inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Egtazic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Egtazic Acid / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Hot Temperature
  • Kinetics
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA-B / physiology
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / physiology
  • Receptors, Purinergic P1 / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Receptors, Purinergic P1
  • AM 251
  • Egtazic Acid
  • 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid
  • Calcium