Cannabinoid Signaling Selectively Modulates GABAergic Inhibitory Input to OFF Bipolar Cells in Rat Retina

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020 Mar 9;61(3):3. doi: 10.1167/iovs.61.3.3.


Purpose: In the mammalian retina, cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1Rs) are well-positioned to alter inhibitory synaptic function from amacrine cells and, thus, might influence visual signal processing in the inner retina. However, it is not known if CB1R modulates amacrine cells feedback inhibition at retinal bipolar cell (BC) terminals.

Methods: Using whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings, we examined the pharmacological effect of CB1R activation and inhibition on spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) and glutamate-evoked IPSCs (gIPSCs) from identified OFF BCs in light-adapted rat retinal slices.

Results: Activation of CB1R with WIN55212-2 selectively increased the frequency of GABAergic, but not glycinergic sIPSC in types 2, 3a, and 3b OFF BCs, and had no effect on inhibitory activity in type 4 OFF BCs. The increase in GABAergic activity was eliminated in axotomized BCs and can be suppressed by blocking CB1R with AM251 or GABAA and GABAρ receptors with SR-95531 and TPMPA, respectively. In all OFF BC types tested, a brief application of glutamate to the outer plexiform layer elicited gIPSCs comprising GABAergic and glycinergic components that were unaffected by CB1R activation. However, blocking CB1R selectively increased GABAergic gIPSCs, supporting a role for endocannabinoid signaling in the regulation of glutamate-evoked GABAergic inhibitory feedback to OFF BCs.

Conclusions: CB1R activation shape types 2, 3a, and 3b OFF BC responses by selectively regulate GABAergic feedback inhibition at their axon terminals, thus cannabinoid signaling might play an important role in the fine-tuning of visual signal processing in the mammalian inner retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology
  • Animals
  • Benzoxazines / pharmacology
  • Cell Polarity / drug effects
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Feedback, Physiological / drug effects
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Female
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Male
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Phosphinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / physiology*
  • Retina
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Bipolar Cells / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • (1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridin-4-yl)methylphosphinic acid
  • Benzoxazines
  • Cnr1 protein, rat
  • Endocannabinoids
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Morpholines
  • Naphthalenes
  • Phosphinic Acids
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyridines
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • AM 251
  • Glutamic Acid
  • (3R)-((2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-((4-morpholinyl)methyl)pyrrolo-(1,2,3-de)-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl)(1-naphthalenyl))methanone