Endocannabinoid signaling system is involved in regulating multiple neuronal functions in the central nervous system by activating G-protein coupled cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors (CB1Rs and CB2Rs). Growing evidence has shown that CB1Rs and CB2Rs are extensively expressed in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Here, modulation of L- and T-types Ca2+ channels by activating CB1Rs and CB2Rs in RGCs was investigated. Triple immunofluorescent staining showed that L-type subunit CaV1.2 was co-localized with T-type subunits (CaV3.1, CaV3.2 and CaV3.3) in rat RGCs. In acutely isolated rat RGCs, the CB1R agonist WIN55212-2 suppressed both peak and steady-state Ca2+ currents in a dose-dependent manner, with IC50 being 9.6 μM and 8.4 μM, respectively. It was further shown that activation of CB1Rs by WIN55212-2 or ACEA, another CB1R agonist, significantly suppressed both L- and T-type Ca2+ currents, and shifted inactivation curve of T-type one toward hyperpolarization direction. While the effect on L-type Ca2+ channels was mediated by intracellular cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) signaling pathways, only CaMKII signaling pathway was involved in the effect on T-type Ca2+ channels. Furthermore, CB65 and HU308, two specific CB2R agonists, significantly suppressed T-type Ca2+ channels, which was mediated by intracellular cAMP/PKA and CaMKII signaling pathways, but had no effect on L-type channels. These results imply that endogenous cannabinoids may modulate the excitability and the output of RGCs by differentially suppressing the activity of L- and T-type Ca2+ channels through activation of CB1Rs and CB2Rs.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled “A New Dawn in Cannabinoid Neurobiology”.