Neuromodulation via conditional release of endocannabinoids in the spinal locomotor network. uri icon


  • Endocannabinoids act as retrograde signals to modulate synaptic transmission. Little is known, however, about their significance in integrated network activity underlying motor behavior. We have examined the physiological effects of endocannabinoids in a neuronal network underlying locomotor behavior using the isolated lamprey spinal cord. Our results show that endocannabinoids are released during locomotor activity and participate in setting the baseline burst rate. They are released in response to mGluR1 activation and act as retrograde messengers. This conditional release of endocannabinoids can transform motoneurons and crossing interneurons into modulatory neurons by enabling them to regulate their inhibitory synaptic inputs and thus contribute to the modulation of the locomotor burst frequency. These results provide evidence that endocannabinoid retrograde signaling occurs within the locomotor network and contributes to motor pattern generation and regulation in the spinal cord.

publication date

  • January 6, 2005

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