Publication Details

Boucher, A., Hunt, G. E., Micheau, J., Huang, X., McGregor, I., Karl, T. & Arnold, J. 2011, 'The schizophrenia susceptibility gene neuregulin 1 modulates tolerance to the effects of canabinoids', International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 631-643.


Cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia in genetically vulnerable individuals. In this study we aim to show that the schizophrenia susceptibility gene neuregulin 1 (Nrg1) modulates the development of tolerance to cannabinoids in mice. Nrg1 heterozygous (HET) and wild-type (WT) mice were treated daily for 15 d with the synthetic analogue of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol, CP55,940 (0.4 mg/kg). We measured the impact of this exposure on locomotor activity, anxiety, prepulse inhibition (PPI), body temperature and FosB/DFosB immunohistochemistry. Tolerance to CP55,940-induced hypothermia and locomotor suppression developed more rapidly in Nrg1 HET mice than WT mice. Conversely in the light-dark test, while tolerance to the anxiogenic effect of CP55,940 developed in WT mice over days of testing, Nrg1 hypomorphs maintained marked anxiety even after 15 d of treatment. Repeated cannabinoid exposure selectively increased FosB/DFosB expression in the lateral septum, ventral part (LSV) of Nrg1 HET but not WT mice. On day 1 of exposure opposite effects of CP55,940 treatment were observed on PPI, i.e. it was facilitated in Nrg1 hypomorphs and impaired in WT mice, despite the drug significantly impairing the acoustic startle reflex equally in both genotypes. These effects of CP55,940 on PPI were not maintained as both genotypes became tolerant to cannabinoid action with repeated exposure. Our results highlight that Nrg1 modulates the development of cannabinoid tolerance dependent on the parameter being measured. Furthermore, these data reinforce the notion that the VLS is an important brain region involved in Nrg1–cannabinoid interactions.



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