Cannabinoids induce apathetic and impulsive patterns of choice through CB1 receptors and TRPV1 channels

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Despite evidence from psychiatry and psychology clinics pointing to altered cognition and decision making following the consumption of cannabis, the effects of cannabis derivatives are still under dispute and the mechanisms of cannabinoid effects on cognition are not known. In this study, we used effort-based and delay-based decision tasks and showed that ACEA, a potent cannabinoid agonist induced apathetic and impulsive patterns of choice in rats in a dose-dependent manner when locally injected into the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), respectively. Pre-treatment with AM251, a selective cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor antagonist, reversed ACEA-induced impulsive and apathetic patterns of choice in doses higher than a minimally effective dose. Unlike CB1 receptor antagonist, pretreatment with capsazepine, a transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) channel antagonist, was effective only at an intermediary dose. Furthermore, capsazepine per se induced impulsivity and apathy at a high dose suggesting a basal tonic activation of TRPV1 channels that exist in the ACC and OFC to support cost-benefit decision making and to help avoid apathetic and impulsive patterns of decision making. Taken together, unlike previous reports supporting opposing roles for the CB1 receptors and TRPV1 channels in anxiety and panic behavior, our findings demonstrate a different sort of interaction between endocannabinoid and endovanilloid systems and suggest that both systems contribute to the cognitive disrupting effects of cannabinoids. Given prevalent occurrence of apathy and particularly impulsivity in psychiatric disorders, these results have significant implications for pharmacotherapy research targeting these receptors.

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