Exposure to excessive or uncontrolled stress is a major factor associated with various diseases including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The consequences of exposure to trauma are affected not only by aspects of the event itself, but also by the frequency and severity of trauma reminders. It was suggested that in PTSD, hippocampal-dependent memory is compromised while amygdala-dependent memory is strengthened. Several lines of evidence support the role of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system as a modulator of the stress response. In this study we aimed to examine cannabinoids modulation of the long-term effects (i.e., 1 month) of exposure to a traumatic event on memory and plasticity in the hippocampus and amygdala. Following exposure to the shock and reminders model of PTSD in an inhibitory avoidance light-dark apparatus rats demonstrated: (i) enhanced fear retrieval and impaired inhibitory extinction (Ext), (ii) no long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1, (iii) impaired hippocampal-dependent short-term memory in the object location task, (iv) enhanced LTP in the amygdala, and (v) enhanced amygdala-dependent conditioned taste aversion memory. The cannabinoid CB1/2 receptor agonist WIN55-212,2 (0.5mg/kg, i.p.) and the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor URB597 (0.3mg/kg, i.p.), administered 2 hr after shock exposure prevented these opposing effects on hippocampal- and amygdala-dependent processes. Moreover, the effects of WIN55-212,2 and URB597 on Ext and acoustic startle were prevented by co-administration of a low dose of the CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (0.5mg/kg, i.p.), suggesting that the preventing effects of both drugs are mediated by CB1 receptors. Exposure to shock and reminders increased CB1 receptor levels in the CA1 and basolateral amygdala 1 month after shock exposure and this increase was also prevented by administering WIN55-212,2 or URB597. Taken together, these findings suggest the involvement of the eCB system, and specifically CB1 receptors, in the opposite effects of severe stress on memory and plasticity in the hippocampus and amygdala.
- posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience