The potential anxiolytic and antipanic properties of cannabidiol have been shown; however, its mechanism of action seems to recruit other receptors than those involved in the endocannabinoid-mediated system. It was recently shown that the model of panic-like behaviors elicited by the encounters between mice and snakes is a good tool to investigate innate fear-related responses, and cannabidiol causes a panicolytic-like effect in this model. The aim of the present study was to investigate the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) co-participation in the panicolytic-like effects of cannabidiol on the innate fear-related behaviors evoked by a prey versus predator interaction-based paradigm. Male Swiss mice were treated with intraperitoneal (i.p.) administrations of cannabidiol (3 mg/kg, i.p.) and its vehicle and the effects of the peripheral pre-treatment with increasing doses of the 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635 (0.1, 0.3 and 0.9 mg/kg, i.p.) on instinctive fear-induced responses evoked by the presence of a wild snake were evaluated. The present results showed that the panicolytic-like effects of cannabidiol were blocked by the pre-treatment with WAY-100635 at different doses. These findings demonstrate that cannabidiol modulates the defensive behaviors evoked by the presence of threatening stimuli, and the effects of cannabidiol are at least partially dependent on the recruitment of 5-HT1A receptors.
Keywords: 5-HT1A receptors; Cannabidiol; panic attacks; prey versus predator paradigm; serotonin.