Cannabinoids acting on CB1 receptors induce learning and memory impairments. However, the identification of novel non-CB1 receptors which are insensitive to the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) but sensitive to synthetic cannabinoids such as WIN55,212-2 (WIN2) or endocannabinoids like anandamide lead us to question whether WIN-2 induced learning and memory deficits are indeed mediated by CB1 receptor activation. Given the relative paucity of receptor subtype specific antagonists, a way forward would be to determine the transmitter systems, which are modulated by the respective cannabinoids. This study set out to evaluate this proposition by determination of the effects of WIN-2 on acquisition of spatial reference memory using the water maze in rats. Particular weight was given to performance in trial 1 of each daily session as an index of between-session long-term memory, and in trial 4 as an index of within-session short-term memory. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of WIN-2 (1 mg/kg and 3 mg/kg) prior to training impaired long-term, but not short-term memory. This deficit was not reversed by the CB1 antagonists/inverse agonists Rimonabant (3 mg/kg i.p.) and AM281 (0.5 mg/kg i.p.), but recovered in the presence of the cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine (1 mg/kg). Reversal by rivastigmine was specific to WIN-2, as it failed to reverse MK801 (0.08 mg/kg) induced learning impairments.
Collectively, these data suggest that in this spatial reference memory task WIN-2 causes a reduction in cholinergic activation, possibly through a non-CB1-like mechanism, which affects long-term but not short-term spatial memory.
- spatial learning
- water maze
- cholinesterase inhibitor
- hippocampal acetylcholine-release
- receptor antagonist SR141716A
- induced memory impairment
- rat prefrontal cortex
- SR 141716A