Recent studies have found that some forms of endocannabinoid-dependent synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus are mediated through activation of transient potential receptor vanilloid (TRPV) receptors instead of cannabinoid receptors CB1 or CB2. The potential role for synaptic localization of TRPV receptors during endocannabinoid modulation of nociceptive synapses was examined in the leech CNS where it is possible to record from the same pair of neurons from one preparation to the next. Long-term depression (LTD) in the monosynaptic connection between the nociceptive (N) sensory neuron and the longitudinal (L) motor neuron was found to be endocannabinoid-dependent given that this depression was blocked by RHC-80267, an inhibitor of DAG lipase that is required for 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2AG) synthesis. Intracellular injection of a second DAG lipase inhibitor, tetrahyrdolipstatin (THL) was also able to block this endocannabinoid-dependent LTD (ecLTD) when injected postsynaptically but not presynaptically. N-to-L ecLTD was also inhibited by the TRPV1 antagonists capsazepine and SB 366791. Bath application of 2AG or the TRPV1 agonists capsaicin and resiniferatoxin mimicked LTD and both capsaicin- and 2AG-induced depression were blocked by capsazepine. In addition, pretreatment with 2AG or capsaicin occluded subsequent expression of LTD induced by repetitive activity. Presynaptic, but not postsynaptic, intracellular injection of capsazepine blocked both activity- and 2AG-induced ecLTD, suggesting that a presynaptic TRPV-like receptor in the leech mediated this form of synaptic plasticity. These findings potentially extend the role ecLTD to nociceptive synapses and suggest that invertebrate synapses, which are thought to lack CB1/CB2 receptor orthologues, utilize a TRPV-like protein as an endocannabinoid receptor.
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