Developmental regulation of CB1-mediated spike-time dependent depression at immature mossy fiber-CA3 synapses

Sci Rep. 2012:2:285. doi: 10.1038/srep00285. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Early in postnatal life, mossy fibres (MF), the axons of granule cells in the dentate gyrus, release GABA which is depolarizing and excitatory. Synaptic currents undergo spike-time dependent long-term depression (STD-LTD) regardless of the temporal order of stimulation (pre versus post and viceversa). Here we show that at P3 but not at P21, STD-LTD, induced by negative pairing, is mediated by endocannabinoids mobilized from the postsynaptic cell during spiking-induced membrane depolarization. By diffusing backward, endocannabinoids activate cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptors probably expressed on MF. Thus, STD-LTD was prevented by CB1 receptor antagonists and was absent in CB1-KO mice. Consistent with these data, in situ hybridization experiments revealed detectable level of CB1 mRNA in the granule cell layer at P3 but not at P21. These results indicate that CB1 receptors are transiently expressed on immature MF terminals where they counteract the enhanced neuronal excitability induced by the excitatory action of GABA.