Cannabinoid Receptor 1 and Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Contribute to Operant Sensation Seeking in Mice.
ABSTRACT: A large body of evidence in humans and preclinical models supports a role for the endocannabinoid system in the proper execution of motivated or goal-directed behaviors. Operant sensation seeking (OSS) is a task that uses varied sensory stimuli as a reinforcer to maintain operant responding in mice. The purpose of the studies in this report was to begin to explore the role of endocannabinoid signaling in OSS utilizing cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) knock out mice. Compared to wild type littermate controls, CB1R knock out mice exhibited significantly fewer active responses and earned significantly fewer reinforcers in fixed ratio and progressive ratio schedules. On the other hand, FAAH knock out mice exhibited increased active responses and earned more reinforcers than wild type littermates in fixed ratio but not progressive ratio schedules. These findings support the role of endocannabinoid signaling in motivated behaviors and also expand our understanding of the signaling processes involved in OSS.
Project description:Novelty and sensation seeking have been associated with elevated drug intake in human and animal studies, suggesting overlap in the circuitry mediating these behaviors. In this study, we found that C57Bl/6J mice readily acquired operant responding for dynamic visual stimuli, a phenomenon we term operant sensation seeking (OSS). Like operant studies using other reinforcers, mice responded on fixed and progressive ratio schedules, were resistant to extinction, and had sustained responding with extended access. We also found that OSS, like psychostimulant self-administration, is sensitive to disruption of dopamine signaling. Low doses of the dopamine antagonist cis-flupenthixol increased active lever responding, an effect reported for psychostimulant self-administration. Additionally, D1-deficient mice failed to acquire OSS, although they readily acquired lever pressing for food. Finally, we found that one common measure of novelty seeking, locomotor activity in a novel open field, did not predict OSS performance. OSS may have predictive validity for screening compounds for use in the treatment of drug addiction. In addition, we also discuss the potential relevance of this animal model to the field of behavioral addictions.
Project description:High-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity and insulin resistance are associated with increased activity of the endocannabinoid/CB1 receptor (CB1R) system that promotes the hepatic expression of lipogenic genes, including stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1). Mice deficient in CB1R or SCD1 remain lean and insulin-sensitive on an HFD, suggesting a functional link between the two systems. The HFD-induced increase in the hepatic levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide [i.e., arachidonoylethanolamide (AEA)] has been attributed to reduced activity of the AEA-degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Here we show that HFD-induced increased hepatic AEA levels and decreased FAAH activity are absent in SCD1(-/-) mice, and the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) products of SCD1, palmitoleic and oleic acid, inhibit FAAH activity in vitro at low micromolar concentrations. HFD markedly increases hepatic SCD1 activity in WT mice as well as in CB1R(-/-) mice with transgenic reexpression of CB1R in hepatocytes, but not in global CB1R(-/-) mice. Treatment of HFD-fed mice with the SCD1 inhibitor A939572 prevents the diet-induced reduction of hepatic FAAH activity, normalizes hepatic AEA levels, and improves insulin sensitivity. SCD1(-/-) mice on an HFD remain insulin-sensitive, but develop glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in response to chronic treatment with the FAAH inhibitor URB597. An HFD rich in MUFA or feeding mice pure oleic acid fail to inhibit hepatic FAAH activity. We conclude that MUFAs generated via SCD1 activity, but not diet-derived MUFAs, function as endogenous FAAH inhibitors mediating the HFD-induced increase in hepatic AEA, which then activates hepatic CB1R to induce insulin resistance.
Project description:Cannabinoid receptor (CBR) agonists produce antinociception in conventional preclinical assays of pain-stimulated behavior but are not effective in preclinical assays of pain-depressed behavior. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitors increase physiological levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which may confer improved efficacy and safety relative to direct CBR agonists. To further evaluate FAAH inhibitors as candidate analgesics, this study assessed the effects of the FAAH inhibitor URB597 in assays of acute pain-stimulated and pain-depressed behavior in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Intraperitoneal injection of dilute lactic acid served as a noxious stimulus to stimulate a stretching response or depress positively reinforced operant behavior (intracranial self-stimulation), and URB597 was tested 1 and 4 h after administration. Consistent with FAAH inhibitor effects in other assays of pain-stimulated behavior, URB597 (1-10 mg/kg intraperitoneally) produced dose-related and CB1R-mediated decreases in acid-stimulated stretching. Conversely, in the assay of acid-depressed intracranial self-stimulation, URB597 produced a delayed, partial and non-CBR-mediated antinociceptive effect. The antinociceptive dose of URB597 (10 mg/kg) increased plasma and brain anandamide levels. These results suggest that URB597 produces antinociception in these models of 'pain stimulated' and 'pain depressed' behavior, but with different rates of onset and differential involvement of CBRs.
Project description:RATIONALE:The reinforcing effects of cocaine are mediated by the mesolimbic dopamine system. Behavioral and neurochemical studies have shown that the cholinergic muscarinic M(4) receptor subtype plays an important role in regulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission. OBJECTIVES:Here we investigated for the first time the involvement of M(4) receptors in the reinforcing effects of cocaine using chronic intravenous cocaine self-administration in extensively backcrossed M(4) receptor knockout (M(4) (-/-)) mice. METHODS:We evaluated acquisition of cocaine self-administration in experimentally naïve mice. Both cocaine self-administration and food-maintained operant behavior were evaluated under fixed ratio 1 (FR 1) and progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement. In addition, cocaine-induced dopamine release and cocaine-induced hyperactivity were evaluated. RESULTS:M(4) (-/-) mice earned significantly more cocaine reinforcers and reached higher breaking points than their wild-type littermates (M(4) (+/+)) at intermediate doses of cocaine under both FR 1 and PR schedules of reinforcement. Under the PR schedule, M(4) (-/-) mice exhibited significantly higher response rates at the lowest liquid food concentration. In accordance with these results, cocaine-induced dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens and hyperlocomotion were increased in M(4) (-/-) mice compared to M(4) (+/+) mice. CONCLUSIONS:Our data suggest that M(4) receptors play an important role in regulation of the reward circuitry and may serve as a new target in the medical treatment of drug addiction.
Project description:The endocannabinoid signaling system is a widespread, neuromodulatory system in brain and is also widely utilized in the periphery to modulate metabolic functions and the immune system. Preclinical data demonstrate that endocannabinoid signaling is an important stress buffer and modulates emotional and cognitive functions. These data suggest the hypothesis that endocannabinoid signaling could be dysfunctional in a number of mental disorders. Genetic polymorphisms in the human genes for two important proteins of the endocannabinoid signaling system, the CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), have been explored in the context of normal and pathological conditions. In the case of the gene for FAAH, the mechanistic relationships among the common genetic polymorphism, the expression of the FAAH protein, and its likely impact on endocannabinoid signaling are understood. However, multiple polymorphisms in the gene for the CB1R occur and are associated with human phenotypic differences without an understanding of the functional relationships among the gene, mRNA, protein, and protein function. The endocannabinoid ligands are found in the circulation, and several studies have identified changes in their concentrations under various conditions. These data are reviewed for the purpose of generating hypotheses and to encourage further studies in this very interesting and important area.
Project description:Adolescence represents a developmental period with the highest risk for initiating cannabis use. Little is known about whether genetic variation in the endocannabinoid system alters mesolimbic reward circuitry to produce vulnerability to the rewarding properties of the exogenous cannabinoid ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Using a genetic knock-in mouse model (FAAHC/A) that biologically recapitulates the human polymorphism associated with problematic drug use, we find that in adolescent female mice, but not male mice, this FAAH polymorphism enhances the mesolimbic dopamine circuitry projecting from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and alters cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) levels at inhibitory and excitatory terminals in the VTA. These developmental changes collectively increase vulnerability of adolescent female FAAHC/A mice to THC preference that persists into adulthood. Together, these findings suggest that this endocannabinoid genetic variant is a contributing factor for increased susceptibility to cannabis dependence in adolescent females.
Project description:Endocannabinoid signaling regulates feeding and metabolic processes and has been linked to obesity development. Several hormonal signals, such as glucocorticoids and ghrelin, regulate feeding and metabolism by engaging the endocannabinoid system. Similarly, studies have suggested that leptin interacts with the endocannabinoid system, yet the mechanism and functional relevance of this interaction remain elusive. Therefore, we explored the interaction between leptin and endocannabinoid signaling with a focus on fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the primary degradative enzyme for the endocannabinoid N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide; AEA). Mice deficient in leptin exhibited elevated hypothalamic AEA levels and reductions in FAAH activity while leptin administration to WT mice reduced AEA content and increased FAAH activity. Following high fat diet exposure, mice developed resistance to the effects of leptin administration on hypothalamic AEA content and FAAH activity. At a functional level, pharmacological inhibition of FAAH was sufficient to prevent leptin-mediated effects on body weight and food intake. Using a novel knock-in mouse model recapitulating a common human polymorphism (FAAH C385A; rs324420), which reduces FAAH activity, we investigated whether human genetic variance in FAAH affects leptin sensitivity. While WT (CC) mice were sensitive to leptin-induced reductions in food intake and body weight gain, low-expressing FAAH (AA) mice were unresponsive. These data demonstrate that FAAH activity is required for leptin's hypophagic effects and, at a translational level, suggest that a genetic variant in the FAAH gene contributes to differences in leptin sensitivity in human populations.
Project description:The endocannabinoid system has been found to play an important role in modulating alcohol intake. Inhibition or genetic deletion of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH; a key catabolic enzyme for endocannabinoids) leads to increased alcohol consumption and preference in rodent models. A common human single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; C385A, rs324420) in the FAAH gene is associated with decreased enzymatic activity of FAAH, resulting in increased anandamide levels in both humans and FAAH C385A knock-in mice.As this FAAH SNP has been reported to be associated with altered alcohol abuse, the present study used these genetic knock-in mice containing the human SNP C385A to determine the impact of variant FAAH gene on alcohol "binge" drinking in the drinking-in-the-dark (DID) model.We found that the FAAH(A/A) mice had greater alcohol intake and preference than the wild-type FAAH(C/C) mice, suggesting that increased endocannabinoid signaling in FAAH(A/A) mice led to increased alcohol "binge" consumption. The specificity on alcohol vulnerability was suggested by the lack of any FAAH genotype difference on sucrose or saccharin intake. Using the "binge" DID model, we confirmed that selective CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 reduced alcohol intake in the wild-type mice.These data suggest that there is direct and selective involvement of the human FAAH C385A SNP and CB1 receptors in alcohol "binge" drinking.
Project description:The nucleus accumbens core (AcbC) is believed to contribute to the control of operant behaviour by reinforcers. Recent evidence suggests that it is not crucial for determining the incentive value of immediately available reinforcers, but is important for maintaining the values of delayed reinforcers.This study aims to examine the effect of AcbC lesions on performance on a progressive-ratio schedule using a quantitative model that dissociates effects of interventions on motor and motivational processes (Killeen 1994 Mathematical principles of reinforcement. Behav Brain Sci 17:105-172).Rats with bilateral quinolinic acid-induced lesions of the AcbC (n = 15) or sham lesions (n = 14) were trained to lever-press for food-pellet reinforcers under a progressive-ratio schedule. In Phase 1 (90 sessions) the reinforcer was one pellet; in Phase 2 (30 sessions), it was two pellets; in Phase 3, (30 sessions) it was one pellet.The performance of both groups conformed to the model of progressive-ratio performance (group mean data: r2 > 0.92). The motor parameter, delta, was significantly higher in the AcbC-lesioned than the sham-lesioned group, reflecting lower overall response rates in the lesioned group. The motivational parameter, a, was sensitive to changes in reinforcer size, but did not differ significantly between the two groups. The AcbC-lesioned group showed longer post-reinforcement pauses and lower running response rates than the sham-lesioned group.The results suggest that destruction of the AcbC impairs response capacity but does not alter the efficacy of food reinforcers. The results are consistent with recent findings that AcbC lesions do not alter sensitivity to reinforcer size in inter-temporal choice schedules.
Project description:Even a brief exposure to severe stress strengthens synaptic connectivity days later in the amygdala, a brain area implicated in the affective symptoms of stress-related psychiatric disorders. However, little is known about the synaptic signaling mechanisms during stress that eventually culminate in its delayed impact on the amygdala. Hence, we investigated early stress-induced changes in amygdalar synaptic signaling in order to prevent its delayed effects. Whole-cell recordings in basolateral amygdala (BLA) slices from rats revealed higher frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) immediately after 2-h immobilization stress. This was replicated by inhibition of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R), suggesting a role for endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling. Stress also reduced N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), an endogenous ligand of CB1R. Since stress-induced activation of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) reduces AEA, we confirmed that oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during stress prevents the increase in synaptic excitation in the BLA soon after stress. Although stress also caused an immediate reduction in synaptic inhibition, this was not prevented by FAAH inhibition. Strikingly, FAAH inhibition during the traumatic stressor was also effective 10 d later on the delayed manifestation of synaptic strengthening in BLA neurons, preventing both enhanced mEPSC frequency and increased dendritic spine-density. Thus, oral administration of an FAAH inhibitor during a brief stress prevents the early synaptic changes that eventually build up to hyperexcitability in the amygdala. This framework is of therapeutic relevance because of growing interest in targeting eCB signaling to prevent the gradual development of emotional symptoms and underlying amygdalar dysfunction triggered by traumatic stress.