Chronic stress, a risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorders, is known to induce alterations in neuronal networks in many brain areas. Previous studies have shown that chronic stress changes the expression of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) in the brains of adult rats, but neurophysiological consequences of these changes remained unclear. Here we demonstrate that chronic restraint stress causes a dysfunction in CB1 mediated modulation of GABAergic transmission in the hippocampus. Using an established protocol, adult male Sprague Dawley rats were daily restrained for 21 days and whole-cell voltage clamp was performed at CA1 pyramidal neurons. When recording carbachol-evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) which presumably originate from CB1 expressing cholecystokinin (CCK) interneurons, we found that depolarization-induced suppression of inhibition (DSI) was impaired by the stress. DSI is a form of short-term plasticity at GABAergic synapses that is known to be CB1 mediated and has been suggested to be involved in hippocampal information encoding. Chronic stress attenuated the depolarization-induced suppression of the frequency of carbachol-evoked IPSCs. Incubation with a CB1 receptor antagonist prevented this DSI effect in control but not in chronically stressed animals. The stress-induced impairment of CB1-mediated short-term plasticity at GABAergic synapses may underlie cognitive deficits which are commonly observed in animal models of stress as well as in patients with stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.