Recruitment of prefrontal cortical endocannabinoid signaling by glucocorticoids contributes to termination of the stress response

Matthew N. Hill, Ryan J. McLaughlin, Bin Pan, Megan L. Fitzgerald, Christopher J. Roberts, Tiffany T.Y. Lee, Ilia N. Karatsoreos, Ken Mackie, Victor Viau, Virginia M. Pickel, Bruce S. McEwen, Qing song Liu, Boris B. Gorzalka, Cecilia J. Hillard

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290 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mechanisms subserving the ability of glucocorticoid signaling within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to terminate stressinduced activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are not well understood. We report that antagonism of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor locally within the mPFC prolonged corticosterone secretion following cessation of stress in rats. Mice lacking the CB1 receptor exhibited a similar prolonged response to stress. Exposure of rats to stress produced an elevation in the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol within the mPFC that was reversed by pretreatment with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486 (20 mg/kg). Electron microscopic and electrophysiological data demonstrated the presence of CB1 receptors in inhibitory-type terminals impinging upon principal neurons within layer V of the prelimbic region of the mPFC. Bath application of corticosterone (100 nM) to prefrontal cortical slices suppressed GABA release onto principal neurons in layer V of the prelimbic region when examined 1 h later which was prevented by application of a CB1 receptor antagonist. Collectively these data demonstrate that the ability of stress-induced glucocorticoid signaling within mPFC to terminate HPA axis activity is mediated by a local recruitment of endocannabinoid signaling. Endocannabinoid activation of CB1 receptors decreases GABA release within the mPFC likely increasing the outflow of the principal neurons of the prelimbic region to contribute to termination of the stress response. These data support a model in which endocannabinoid signaling links glucocorticoid receptor engagement to activation of corticolimbic relays that inhibit corticosterone secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10506-10515
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume31
Issue number29
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 20 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience

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