Endocannabinoids Regulate the Migration of Subventricular Zone-Derived Neuroblasts in the Postnatal Brain

Madeleine J. Oudin, Sangeetha Gajendra, Gareth Williams, Carl Hobbs, Giovanna Lalli, Patrick Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


In the adult brain, neural stem cells proliferate within the subventricular zone before differentiating into migratory neuroblasts that travel along the rostral migratory stream (RMS) to populate the olfactory bulb with new neurons. Because neuroblasts have been shown to migrate to areas of brain injury, understanding the cues regulating this migration could be important for brain repair. Recent studies have highlighted an important role for endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling in the proliferation of the stem cell population, but it remained to be determined whether this pathway also played a role in cell migration. We now show that mouse migratory neuroblasts express cannabinoid receptors, diacylglycerol lipase alpha (DAGL alpha), the enzyme that synthesizes the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and monoacylglycerol lipase, the enzyme responsible for its degradation. Using a scratch wound assay for a neural stem cell line and RMS explant cultures, we show that inhibition of DAGL activity or CB1/CB2 receptors substantially decreases migration. In contrast, direct activation of cannabinoid receptors or preventing the breakdown of 2-AG increases migration. Detailed analysis of primary neuroblast migration by time-lapse imaging reveals that nucleokinesis, as well as the length and branching of the migratory processes are under dynamic control of the eCB system. Finally, similar effects are observed in vivo by analyzing the morphology of green fluorescent protein-labeled neuroblasts in brain slices from mice treated with CB1 or CB2 antagonists. These results describe a novel role for the endocannabinoid system in neuroblast migration in vivo, highlighting its importance in regulating an additional essential step in adult neurogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4000 - 4011
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2011


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