Chronic voluntary wheel-running activity has been reported to hypersensitise central CB1 receptors in mice. On the other hand, pharmacological findings suggest that the CB1 receptor could be involved in wheel-running behaviour and in running-induced neurogenesis in the hippocampus. We analysed wheel-running behaviour for 6 weeks and measured its consequences on hippocampal neurogenesis in CB1 knockout (CB1(-/-)) animals, compared to wild-type (CB1(+/+)) littermates. Because wheel running has been shown to affect locomotor reactivity in novel environments, memory for aversive events and depression-like behaviours, we also assessed these behaviours in control and running CB1(+/+) and CB1(-/-) mice. When compared with running CB1(+/+) mice, the distance covered weekly by CB1(-/-) mice was decreased by 30-40%, an observation accounted for by decreased time spent and maximal velocity on the wheels. Analyses of running distances with respect to the light/dark cycle revealed that mutant covered less distance throughout both the inactive and the active phases of that cycle. Locomotion in an activity cage, exploration in an open field, and immobility time in the forced swim test proved insensitive to chronic wheel running in either genotype. Wheel running, per se, did not influence the expression and extinction of cued fear memory but counteracted in a time-dependent manner the deficiency of extinction measured in CB1(-/-) mice. Hippocampal neurogenesis, assessed by doublecortin labelling of immature neurons in the dentate gyrus, was lowered by 40% in control CB1(-/-) mice, compared to control CB1(+/+) mice. Although CB1(-/-) mice ran less than their wild-type littermates, the 6-week running protocol increased neurogenesis to similar extents (37-39%) in both genotypes. This study suggests that mouse CB1 receptors control wheel running but not its neurogenic consequences in the hippocampus.
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