Examining Cholinergic Synaptic Signaling in the Thalamic Reticular Nucleus

Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2017 Jun 1;2017(6):pdb.prot095836. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot095836.


This protocol describes how to obtain monosynaptic cholinergic responses in neurons of the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) by making use of extracellular stimulation techniques. These methods are easy to implement and allow for the study of various forms of cholinergic synaptic plasticity and modulation. For many synapses throughout the mammalian brain, short-term plasticity is mediated by endocannabinoids released from postsynaptic neurons that activate presynaptic type I cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs), resulting in the inhibition of presynaptic Ca2+ channels and a reduction of release probability. Neurons in the TRN are known to liberate endocannabinoids that can control transmitter release at GABAergic terminals. However, expression of CB1Rs on cholinergic terminals contacting the TRN has not been demonstrated. Here we outline strategies aimed to record stable postsynaptic responses and to quantify changes in cholinergic synaptic strength, using presynaptic modulation of acetylcholine (ACh) release by a CB1R agonist as an illustrative example.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Mammals
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Cnr1 protein, rat
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1