Ca(2+)-assisted receptor-driven endocannabinoid release: mechanisms that associate presynaptic and postsynaptic activities

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2007 Jun;17(3):360-5. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2007.03.012. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) serve as retrograde messengers at synapses in various regions of the brain. They are released from postsynaptic neurons and cause transient and long-lasting reduction of neurotransmitter release through activation of presynaptic cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoid release is induced either by increased postsynaptic Ca(2+) levels or by activation of G(q/11)-coupled receptors. When these two stimuli coincide, endocannabinoid release is markedly enhanced, which is attributed to the Ca(2+) dependency of phospholipase Cbeta (PLCbeta). This Ca(2+)-assisted receptor-driven endocannabinoid release is suggested to participate in various forms of synaptic plasticity, including short-term associative plasticity in the cerebellum and spike-timing-dependent long-term depression in the somatosensory cortex. In these forms of plasticity, PLCbeta seems to function as a coincident detector of presynaptic and postsynaptic activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Models, Biological
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Calcium