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A role for 2-arachidonoylglycerol and endocannabinoid signaling in the locomotor response to novelty induced by olfactory bulbectomy


Bilateral olfactory bulbectomy (OBX) in rodents produces behavioral and neurochemical changes associated clinically with depression and schizophrenia. Most notably, OBX induces hyperlocomotion in response to the stress of exposure to a novel environment. We examined the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating this locomotor response in OBX and sham-operated rats. In our study, OBX-induced hyperactivity was restricted to the first 3 min of the open field test, demonstrating the presence of novelty (0-3 min) and habituation (3-30 min) phases of the open field locomotor response. Levels of the endocannabinoids 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide were decreased in the ventral striatum, a brain region deafferented by OBX, whereas cannabinoid receptor densities were unaltered. In sham-operated rats, 2-AG levels in the ventral striatum were negatively correlated with distance traveled during the novelty phase. Thus, low levels of 2-AG are reflected in a hyperactive open field response. This correlation was not observed in OBX rats. Conversely, 2-AG levels in endocannabinoid-compromised OBX rats correlated with distance traveled during the habituation phase. In OBX rats, pharmacological blockade of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors with either AM251 (1 mg kg(-1) i.p.) or rimonabant (1 mg kg(-1) i.p.) increased distance traveled during the habituation phase. Thus, blockade of endocannabinoid signaling impairs habituation of the hyperlocomotor response in OBX, but not sham-operated, rats. By contrast, in sham-operated rats, effects of CB(1) antagonism were restricted to the novelty phase. These findings suggest that dysregulation in the endocannabinoid system, and 2-AG in particular, is implicated in the hyperactive locomotor response induced by OBX. Our studies suggest that drugs that enhance 2-AG signaling, such as 2-AG degradation inhibitors, might be useful in human brain disorders modeled by OBX.

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