Wiring and firing neuronal networks: endocannabinoids take center stage

Tibor Harkany, Ken Mackie, Patrick Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Citations (Scopus)


Endocannabinoids (eCBs) function as retrograde messengers at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses, and control various forms of synaptic plasticity in the adult brain. The molecular machinery required for specific eCB functions during synaptic plasticity is well established. However, eCB signaling plays surprisingly fundamental roles in controlling the acquisition of neuronal identity during CNS development. Recent work suggests that selective recruitment of regulatory signaling networks to CB, cannabinoid receptors dictates neuronal state-change decisions. In addition, the spatial localization and temporal precision of eCB actions emerges as a novel organizer in developing neuronal networks. Current challenges include fitting novel molecular candidates into regulatory eCB signaling pathways, and defining the temporal dynamics of context-de pendent signaling mechanisms underpinning particular neuronal specification events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • CB1 cannabinoid receptor
  • long-term potentiation
  • hippocampal-neurons
  • synaptic-transmission
  • inhibitory synapses
  • neurotrophic factor
  • axonal growth
  • brain
  • anandamide
  • system


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