The endocannabinoid system plays a central role in retrograde synaptic communication and may control the spread of activity in an epileptic network. Using the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy we examined the expression pattern of the Type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1-R) in the hippocampi of CD1 mice at survival times of 2 hours, 1 day, 3 days and 2 months (acute, latent and chronic phases). Based on the behavioral signs of the acute seizures, animals were classified as "Weakly" or "Strongly" epileptic using the modified Racine scale. Mice of the weak group had mild seizures, whereas seizures in the strong group were frequent with intense motor symptoms and the majority of these animals developed sclerosis in the chronic phase. In control samples the most intense staining of CB1-R-positive fibers was found in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus and in str. pyramidale of the cornu Ammonis. In weak animals no significant changes were seen at any survival time compared to controls. In strong animals, however, in the acute phase, a massive reduction in CB1-R-stained terminals occurred in the hippocampus. In the latent phase CB1-R immunoreactivity gradually recovered. In the chronic phase, CB1-immunostaining in sclerotic samples was stronger throughout the hippocampus. Quantitative electron microscopic analysis showed an increase in the number of CB1-R-positive terminals in the dentate gyrus. Moreover, the number of immunogold particles significantly increased in GABAergic terminals. Our results suggest a proconvulsive downregulation of CB1 receptors in the acute phase most probably due to receptor internalization, followed by compensatory upregulation and sprouting in the chronic phase of epilepsy. In conclusion, the changes in CB1 receptor expression pattern revealed in this study are associated with the severity of hippocampal injury initiated by acute seizures that ultimately leads to sclerosis in the vulnerable regions in the chronic phase.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)