Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

Roles of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 on the retinal function of adult mice.

PMID 24255040


Endocannabinoids are important modulators of synaptic transmission and plasticity throughout the central nervous system. The cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1R) is extensively expressed in the adult retina of rodents, while CB2R mRNA and protein expression have been only recently demonstrated in retinal tissue. The activation of cannabinoid receptors modulates neurotransmitter release from photoreceptors and could also affect bipolar cell synaptic release. However, the impact of CB1R and CB2R on the retinal function as a whole is currently unknown. In the present study, we investigated the function of cannabinoid receptors in the retina by recording electroretinographic responses (ERGs) from mice lacking either CB1 or CB2 receptors (cnr1(-/-) and cnr2(-/-), respectively). We also documented the precise distribution of CB2R by immunohistochemistry. Our results showed that CB2R is localized in cone and rod photoreceptors, horizontal cells, some amacrine cells, and bipolar and ganglion cells. In scotopic conditions, the amplitudes of the a-wave of the ERG were increased in cnr2(-/-) mice, while they remained unchanged in cnr1(-/-) mice. The analysis of the velocity-time profile of the a-wave revealed that the increased amplitude was due to a slower deceleration rather than an increase in acceleration of the waveform. Under photopic conditions, b-wave amplitudes of cnr2(-/-) mice required more light adaptation time to reach stable values. No effects were observed in cnr1(-/-) mice. The data indicated that CB2R is likely to be involved in shaping retinal responses to light and suggest that CB1 and CB2 receptors could have different roles in visual processing.