GABAB and CB1 cannabinoid receptor expression identifies two types of septal cholinergic neurons

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jun;21(11):3034-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04146.x.


Septohippocampal cholinergic neurons play key roles in learning and memory processes, and in the generation of hippocampal theta rhythm. The range of receptors for endogenous modulators expressed on these neurons is unclear. Here we describe GABA(B) 1a/b receptor (GABA(B)R) and type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB(1)R) expression in rat septal cholinergic [i.e. choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive] cells. Using double immunofluorescent staining, we found that almost two-thirds of the cholinergic cells in the rat medial septum were GABA(B)R positive, and that these cells had significantly larger somata than did GABA(B)R-negative cholinergic neurons. We detected CB(1)R labelling in somata after axonal protein transport was blocked by colchicine. In these animals about one-third of the cholinergic cells were CB(1)R positive. These cells again had larger somata than CB(1)R-negative cholinergic neurons. The analyses confirmed that the size of GABA(B)R-positive and CB(1)R-positive cholinergic cells were alike, and all CB(1)R-positive cholinergic cells were GABA(B)R positive as well. CB(1)R-positive cells were invariably ChAT positive. All retrogradely labelled septohippocampal cholinergic cells were positive for GABA(B)R and at least half of them also for CB(1)R. These data shed light on the existence of at least two cholinergic cell types in the medial septum: one expresses GABA(B)R and CB(1)R, has large somata and projects to the hippocampus, whereas the other is negative for GABA(B)R and CB(1)R and has smaller somata. The results also suggest that cholinergic transmission in the hippocampus is fine-tuned by endocannabinoid signalling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Size
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Cholinergic Fibers / classification
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, GABA-B / metabolism*
  • Septal Nuclei / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholine