Cannabinoids regulate an insula circuit controlling water intake

Zhe Zhao, Ana Covelo, Arojit Mitra, Marjorie Varilh, Yifan Wu, Débora Jacky, Astrid Cannich, Luigi Bellocchio, Giovanni Marsicano, Anna Beyeler
. 2022-03-20; :
DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.18.484736

ABSTRACTThe insular cortex, or insula, is a large brain region involved in the detection of thirst and the control of water intake. However our understanding of the topographical, circuit and molecular mechanisms the controlling water intake within the insula remains parcellated. We found that type-1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1) within the insular cortex participate to the regulation of water intake, and deconstructed circuit mechanisms of this control. Topographically, we revealed that the activity of excitatory neurons in both anterior (aIC) and posterior (pIC) insula increases in response to water intake, yet removal of CB1 receptors only in the pIC decreases water intake. Interestingly, we found that CB1 receptors are highly expressed in insula projections to the basolateral amygdala (BLA), while undetectable in the neighboring central part of the amygdala. Thus, we imaged the neurons of the anterior or posterior insula targeting the BLA (aIC-BLA and pIC-BLA), and found they oppositely respond to water intake, respectively decreasing and increasing their activity upon water drinking. Consistently, chemogenetic activation of pIC-BLA neurons decreased water intake. Finally, we uncovered CB1-dependent short term synaptic plasticity (depolarization-induced suppression of excitation, DSE) selectively in pIC-BLA, compared to aIC-BLA synapses. Altogether, our results support a model where CB1 signaling in the pIC-BLA pathway exerts a positive control on water intake.

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