Monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitors produce pro- or antidepressant responses via hippocampal CA1 GABAergic synapses

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The probability of suffering the mood disorder depression is up to 30% in women and 15% in men during their life span. Pharmacological options for depression are limited: conventional antidepressants have low efficacy and a delayed onset of action (several weeks). Here we investigate the antidepressant actions of inhibitors of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), the major degradative enzyme of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol. A low-dose of MAGL inhibitors produces antidepressant effects on acute stress-exposed mice, through glutamatergic synaptic long-term depression (LTD), without significant effects on chronic corticosterone-exposed mice. In contrast, a high-dose of MAGL inhibitors produces pro- or antidepressant effects on acute stress- or chronic corticosterone-exposed mice, respectively, through GABAergic synaptic disinhibition. In the hippocampus, in vivo inhibition of MAGL induces a CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R)-dependent suppression of inhibitory GABAergic synapses and an in vivo LTD of excitatory glutamatergic synapses. LTD induction requires CB1R in astroglial cells (but not in GABAergic or glutamatergic neurons) and postsynaptic glutamate receptors. The conventional antidepressant fluoxetine produces rapid or delayed antidepressant effects in acute stress- or chronic corticosterone-exposed mice, respectively. We propose that depressionlike behavior of animals in response to acute stress is the normal behavioral response, and thus, MAGL inhibitors, which produce antidepressant effects in chronic corticosterone-exposed animals through GABAergic synaptic disinhibition, represent a new class of rapidly-acting and long-lasting antidepressants.

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