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Activation of Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor (CB1R) Promotes Neurogenesis in Murine Subventricular Zone Cell Cultures

By May 25, 2013No Comments


Activation of Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor (CB1R) Promotes Neurogenesis in Murine Subventricular Zone Cell Cultures


The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in the modulation of adult neurogenesis. Here, we describe the effect of type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) activation on self-renewal, proliferation and neuronal differentiation in mouse neonatal subventricular zone (SVZ) stem/progenitor cell cultures. Expression of CB1R was detected in SVZ-derived immature cells (Nestin-positive), neurons and astrocytes. Stimulation of the CB1R by (R)-(+)-Methanandamide (R-m-AEA) increased self-renewal of SVZ cells, as assessed by counting the number of secondary neurospheres and the number of Sox2+/+ cell pairs, an effect blocked by Notch pathway inhibition. Moreover, R-m-AEA treatment for 48 h, increased proliferation as assessed by BrdU incorporation assay, an effect mediated by activation of MAPK-ERK and AKT pathways. Surprisingly, stimulation of CB1R by R-m-AEA also promoted neuronal differentiation (without affecting glial differentiation), at 7 days, as shown by counting the number of NeuN-positive neurons in the cultures. Moreover, by monitoring intracellular calcium concentrations ([Ca2+]i) in single cells following KCl and histamine stimuli, a method that allows the functional evaluation of neuronal differentiation, we observed an increase in neuronal-like cells. This proneurogenic effect was blocked when SVZ cells were co-incubated with R-m-AEA and the CB1R antagonist AM 251, for 7 days, thus indicating that this effect involves CB1R activation. In accordance with an effect on neuronal differentiation and maturation, R-m-AEA also increased neurite growth, as evaluated by quantifying and measuring the number of MAP2-positive processes. Taken together, these results demonstrate that CB1R activation induces proliferation, self-renewal and neuronal differentiation from mouse neonatal SVZ cell cultures.

Citation: Xapelli S, Agasse F, Sardà-Arroyo L, Bernardino L, Santos T, et al. (2013) Activation of Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor (CB1R) Promotes Neurogenesis in Murine Subventricular Zone Cell Cultures. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63529. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063529
Editor: Jialin Charles Zheng, University of Nebraska Medical Center, United States of America
Received: August 31, 2012; Accepted: April 6, 2013; Published: May 21, 2013
Copyright: © 2013 Xapelli et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The work was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia – Portugal (, projects POCTI/SAU-NEU/68465/2006; PTDC/SAU-NEU/104415/2008; PTDC/SAU-NEU/101783/2008, POCTI/SAU-NEU/110838/2009 and by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (project n° 96542). Sara Xapelli, Liliana Bernardino, Filipa F. Ribeiro and Jorge Valero are supported with fellowships from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS ONE: Activation of Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor (CB1R 

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