Proceedings of The Physiological Society

King's College London (2011) Proc Physiol Soc 22, C16

Oral Communications

Endocannabinoids regulate the migration of subventricular zone-derived neuroblasts in the post-natal brain

M. J. Oudin1, S. Gajendra1, C. Hobbs1, G. Williams1, G. Lalli1, P. Doherty1

1. Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


In the adult brain, neural stem cells proliferate within the subventricular zone before differentiating into migratory neuroblasts that travel along the rostral migratory stream (RMS) to populate the olfactory bulb with new neurons. Because neuroblasts have been shown to migrate to areas of brain injury, understanding the cues regulating this migration could be important for brain repair. Recent studies have highlighted an important role for endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling in the proliferation of the stem cell population, however it remained to be determined if this pathway also played a role in cell migration. We now show that mouse migratory neuroblasts express cannabinoid receptors, diacylglycerol lipase alpha (DAGLα), the enzyme which synthesizes the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), the enzyme responsible for its degradation. Using a scratch wound assay for a neural stem cell line and RMS explant cultures, we show that inhibition of DAGL activity or CB1/CB2 receptors substantially decreases migration. In contrast, direct activation of cannabinoid receptors or preventing the breakdown of 2-AG increases migration. Detailed analysis of primary neuroblast migration by time-lapse imaging reveals that nucleokinesis, as well as the length and branching of the migratory processes are under dynamic control of the eCB system. Finally, similar effects are observed in vivo by analyzing the morphology of GFP-labeled neuroblasts in brain slices from mice treated with CB1 or CB2 antagonists. These results describe a novel role for the endocannabinoid system in neuroblast migration in vivo, highlighting its importance in regulating an additional essential step in adult neurogenesis.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements