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A cannabinoid link between mitochondria and memory

Hebert-Chatelain E, Desprez T, Serrat R, Bellocchio L, Soria-Gomez E, Busquets-Garcia A, Zottola AC, Delamarre A, Cannich A, Vincent P, Varilh M, Robin LM, Terral G, García-Fernández MD, Colavita M, Mazier W, Drago F, Puente N, Reguero L, Elezgarai I, Dupuy JW, Cota D, Lopez-Rodriguez ML, Barreda-Gómez G, Massa F, Grandes P, Bénard G, Marsicano G. A cannabinoid link between mitochondria and memory.
Nature. 2016 Nov 9.

Abstract

Cellular activity in the brain depends on the high energetic support provided by mitochondria, the cell organelles which use energy sources to generate ATP. Acute cannabinoid intoxication induces amnesia in humans and animals, and the activation of type-1 cannabinoid receptors present at brain mitochondria membranes (mtCB1) can directly alter mitochondrial energetic activity. Although the pathological impact of chronic mitochondrial dysfunctions in the brain is well established, the involvement of acute modulation of mitochondrial activity in high brain functions, including learning and memory, is unknown. Here, we show that acute cannabinoid-induced memory impairment in mice requires activation of hippocampal mtCB1 receptors. Genetic exclusion of CB1 receptors from hippocampal mitochondria prevents cannabinoid-induced reduction of mitochondrial mobility, synaptic transmission and memory formation. mtCB1 receptors signal through intra-mitochondrial Gαi protein activation and consequent inhibition of soluble-adenylyl cyclase (sAC). The resulting inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of specific subunits of the mitochondrial electron transport system eventually leads to decreased cellular respiration. Hippocampal inhibition of sAC activity or manipulation of intra-mitochondrial PKA signalling or phosphorylation of the Complex I subunit NDUFS2 inhibit bioenergetic and amnesic effects of cannabinoids. Thus, the G protein-coupled mtCB1 receptors regulate memory processes via modulation of mitochondrial energy metabolism. By directly linking mitochondrial activity to memory formation, these data reveal that bioenergetic processes are primary acute regulators of cognitive functions.

doi: 10.1038/nature20127.

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