Altering cannabinoid signaling during development disrupts neuronal activity

C. Bernard, M. Milh, Y. M. Morozov, Y. Ben-Ari, T. F. Freund, H. Gozlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

109 Citations (Scopus)


In adult cortical tissue, recruitment of GABAergic inhibition prevents the progression of synchronous population discharges to epileptic activity. However, at early developmental stages, GABA is excitatory and thus unable to fulfill this role. Here, we report that retrograde signaling involving endocannabinoids is responsible for the homeostatic control of synaptic transmission and the resulting network patterns in the immature hippocampus. Blockade of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor led to epileptic discharges, whereas overactivation of CB1 reduced network activity in vivo. Endocannabinoid signaling thus is able to keep population discharge patterns within a narrow physiological time window, balancing between epilepsy on one side and sparse activity on the other, which may result in impaired developmental plasticity. Disturbing this delicate balance during pregnancy in either direction, e.g., with marijuana as a CB1 agonist or with an antagonist marketed as an antiobesity drug, can have profound consequences for brain maturation even in human embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9388-9393
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2005


  • Drug abuse
  • Endocannabinoid
  • Epilepsy
  • Interneurons
  • Neonates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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