Background: Impaired auditory gating and abnormal neuronal synchrony are indicators of dysfunctional information processing in schizophrenia patients and possible underlying mechanisms of their impaired sensory and cognitive functions. Because cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids have been linked to psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptor activation on sensory gating and neuronal oscillations in rats.
Methods: Auditory sensory gating has been recorded from the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex (EC) in anesthetized rats. Neuronal network oscillations were recorded from the hippocampus, medial septum, EC, and medial prefrontal cortex in anesthetized and freely moving rats. Effects of systemic administration of CB1 receptor agonist CP-55940 were evaluated on these parameters.
Results: CP-55940 significantly disrupted auditory gating both in the hippocampus and EC in anesthetized rats. Theta field potential oscillations were disrupted in the hippocampus and EC, with simultaneous interruption of theta-band oscillations of septal neurons. Administration of the CB1 receptor antagonist AM-251 reversed both the agonist-induced gating deficit and the diminished oscillations. In freely moving rats, CP-55940 significantly reduced theta and gamma power in the hippocampus, whereas in the EC, only gamma power was attenuated. However, novelty-induced theta and gamma activities were significantly diminished by CP-55940 in both the hippocampus and EC.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that activation of CB1 receptors interferes with neuronal network oscillations and impairs sensory gating function in the limbic circuitry, further supporting the connection between cannabis abuse and increased susceptibility of developing schizophrenia spectrum disorders.