There is clear evidence on the neuroprotective role of the endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling cascade in various models of epilepsy. In particular, increased levels of eCBs protect against kainic acid (KA)-induced seizures. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this effect and its age-dependence are still unknown. To clarify this issue, we investigated which step of the biosynthetic and catabolic pathways of the eCBs may be responsible for the eCB-mediated neuroprotection in the hippocampus of P14 and P56-70 KA-treated rats. We found that both anandamide and N-palmitoylethanolamine, together with their biosynthetic enzyme significantly increased in the hippocampus of younger KA-treated rats, while decreasing in adults. In contrast, the levels of the other major eCB, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, similar to its biosynthetic enzyme, were higher in the hippocampus of P56-70 compared to P14 rats. In line with these data, extracellular field recordings in CA1 hippocampus showed that enhancement of endogenous AEA and 2-AG significantly counteracted KA-induced epileptiform bursting in P56-70 and P14 rats, respectively. On the contrary, while the CB1R antagonist SR141716 per se did not affect the population spike, it did worsen KA-induced bursts, confirming increased eCB tone upon KA treatment. Altogether these data indicate an age-specific alteration of the eCB system caused by KA and provide insights for the protective mechanism of the cannabinoid system against epileptiform discharges.
- Arachidonic Acids/pharmacology
- Hippocampus/drug effects
- Kainic Acid
- Neurons/drug effects
- Polyunsaturated Alkamides/pharmacology
- Seizures/chemically induced