Anatomically heterogeneous populations of CB1 cannabinoid receptor-expressing interneurons in the CA3 region of the hippocampus show homogeneous input-output characteristics

Hippocampus. 2014 Dec;24(12):1506-23. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22330. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


A subpopulation of GABAergic cells in cortical structures expresses CB1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1 ) on their axon terminals. To understand the function of these interneurons in information processing, it is necessary to uncover how they are embedded into neuronal circuits. Therefore, the proportion of GABAergic terminals expressing CB1 and the morphological and electrophysiological properties of CB1 -immunoreactive interneurons should be revealed. We investigated the ratio and the origin of CB1 -expressing inhibitory boutons in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. Using immunocytochemical techniques, we estimated that ∼40% of GABAergic axon terminals in different layers of CA3 also expressed CB1 . To identify the inhibitory cell types expressing CB1 in this region, we recorded and intracellularly labeled interneurons in hippocampal slices. CB1 -expressing interneurons showed distinct axonal arborization, and were classified as basket cells, mossy-fiber-associated cells, dendritic-layer-innervating cells or perforant-path-associated cells. In each morphological category, a substantial variability in axonal projection was observed. In contrast to the diverse morphology, the active and passive membrane properties were found to be rather similar. Using paired recordings, we found that pyramidal cells displayed large and fast unitary postsynaptic currents in response to activating basket and mossy-fiber-associated cells, while they showed slower and smaller synaptic events in pairs originating from interneurons that innervate the dendritic layer, which may be due to dendritic filtering. In addition, CB1 activation significantly reduced the amplitude of the postsynaptic currents in each cell pair tested. Our data suggest that CB1 -expressing interneurons with different axonal projections have comparable physiological characteristics, contributing to a similar proportion of GABAergic inputs along the somato-dendritic axis of CA3 pyramidal cells.

Keywords: GABAergic cell; carbachol; cholecystokinin; endocannabinoids; synaptic inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / cytology
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Female
  • GABAergic Neurons / cytology
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1