Changes in food availability alter the output of hypothalamic nuclei that underlie energy homeostasis. Here, we asked whether food deprivation impacts the ability of GABA synapses in the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH), an important integrator of satiety signals, to undergo activity-dependent changes. GABA synapses in DMH slices from satiated rats exhibit endocannabinoid-mediated long-term depression (LTD(GABA)) in response to high-frequency stimulation of afferents. When CB1Rs are blocked, however, the same stimulation elicits long-term potentiation (LTP(GABA)), which manifests presynaptically and requires heterosynaptic recruitment of NMDARs and nitric oxide (NO). Interestingly, NO signaling is required for eCB-mediated LTD(GABA). Twenty-four hour food deprivation results in a CORT-mediated loss of CB1R signaling and, consequently, GABA synapses only exhibit LTP(GABA). These observations indicate that CB1R signaling promotes LTD(GABA) and gates LTP(GABA). Furthermore, the satiety state of an animal, through regulation of eCB signaling, determines the polarity of activity-dependent plasticity at GABA synapses in the DMH.
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