Cannabinoid CB₁ receptor in the modulation of stress coping behavior in mice: the role of serotonin and different forebrain neuronal subpopulations

Neuropharmacology. 2013 Feb:65:83-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Sep 18.


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) may either enhance or inhibit responses to aversive stimuli, possibly caused by its modulatory activity on diverse neurotransmitters. The aim of this work was to investigate the involvement of serotonin (5-HT) and catecholamines, as well as the role of glutamatergic and GABAergic cannabinoid type 1 (CB(1)) receptor, in responses to the antidepressant-like doses of the CB(1) receptor agonist Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the antagonist rimonabant in the forced swim test (FST). Mice received acute injections of low doses of THC (0.1 or 0.5 mg/kg) or high dose of rimonabant (3 or 10 mg/kg) after treatment with the 5-HT synthesis inhibitor pCPA (100 mg/kg, 4 days), the 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist WAY100635 (1 mg/kg, acute) or the non-selective blocker of catecholamine synthesis, AMPT (20 mg/kg, acute). THC and rimonabant were also tested in mutant mice lacking CB(1) receptor in specific forebrain neuronal subpopulations. Both THC and rimonabant induced antidepressant-like effects, quantified as immobility in the FST. However, only THC effects were reversed by pCPA or WAY100635. In contrast, only AMPT could attenuate the rimonabant effect. We also found decreased immobility in mice lacking the CB(1) receptor in glutamatergic cortical neurons, but not in forebrain GABAergic neurons, as compared with wild-type controls. The effect of THC persisted in mutant mice with CB(1) receptor inactivation in GABAergic neurons, whereas rimonabant effects were alleviated in these mutants. Thus, employing both pharmacological and genetic tools, we could show that the ECS regulates stress responses by influencing GABAergic, glutamatergic and monoaminergic transmission. The antidepressant-like action of THC depends on serotonergic neurotransmission, whereas rimonabant effects are mediated by CB(1) receptor on GABAergic neurons and by catecholamine signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Catecholamines / physiology
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • Dronabinol / therapeutic use
  • GABAergic Neurons / drug effects
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Prosencephalon / drug effects
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / physiology*
  • Rimonabant
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Catecholamines
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Serotonin
  • Dronabinol
  • Rimonabant