Journal of Neuroscience Research vol:86 issue:7 pages:1626-34
The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in several neurobiological processes, including neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of unilateral retinal ablation on the expression of the cannabinoid receptor subtype 1 (CB(1)) at both protein and mRNA levels in the optic tectum of the adult chick brain. After different survival times postlesion (2-30 days), the chick brains were subjected to immunohistochemical, immunoblotting, and real-time PCR procedures to evaluate CB(1) expression. TUNEL and Fluoro-Jade B were used to verify the possible occurrence of cell death, and immunostaining for the microtubule-associated protein MAP-2 was performed to verify possible dendritic remodeling after lesions. No cell death could be observed in the deafferented tectum, at least up to 30 days postlesion, although Fluoro-Jade B could reveal degenerating axons and terminals. Retinal ablation seems to generate an increase of CB(1) protein in the optic tectum and other retinorecipient visual areas, which paralleled an increase in MAP-2 staining. On the other hand, CB(1) mRNA levels were not changed after retinal ablation. Our results reveal that CB(1) expression in visual structures of the adult chick brain may be negatively regulated by the retinal innervation. The increase of CB(1) receptor expression observed after retinal removal indicates that these receptors are not presynaptic in retinal axons projecting to the tectum and suggests a role of the cannabinoid system in plasticity processes ensuing after lesions.