The type 1 cannabinoid receptor is highly expressed in embryonic cortical projection neurons and negatively regulates neurite growth in vitro


  • Vitalis Tania
  • Lainé Jeanne
  • Simon Anne
  • Roland Alexandre
  • Leterrier Christophe
  • Lenkei Zsolt


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Axons
  • Rat
  • Mouse
  • Differentiation
  • Dendrites

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In the rodent and human embryonic brains, the cerebral cortex and hippocampus transiently express high levels of type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB 1 Rs), at a developmental stage when these areas are composed mainly of glutamatergic neurons. However, the precise cellular and subcellular localization of CB 1 R expression as well as effects of CB 1 R modulation in this cell population remain largely unknown. We report that, starting from embryonic day 12.5, CB 1 Rs are strongly expressed in both reelin-expressing Cajal-Retzius cells and newly differentiated postmitotic glutamatergic neurons of the mouse telencephalon. CB 1 R protein is localized first to somato-dendritic endosomes and at later developmental stages it localizes mostly to developing axons. In young axons, CB 1 Rs are localized both to the axolemma and to large, often multivesicular endosomes. Acute maternal injection of agonist CP-55940 results in the relocation of receptors from axons to somato-dendritic endosomes, indicating the functional competence of embryonic CB 1 Rs. The adult phenotype of CB 1 R expression is established around postnatal day 5. By using pharmacological and mutational modulation of CB 1 R activity in isolated cultured rat hippocampal neurons, we also show that basal activation of CB 1 R acts as a negative regulatory signal for dendritogenesis, dendritic and axonal outgrowth, and branching. Together, the overall negative regulatory role in neurite development suggests that embryonic CB 1 R signaling may participate in the correct establishment of neuronal connectivity and suggests a possible mechanism for the development of reported glutamatergic dysfunction in the offspring following maternal cannabis consumption.

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