Cannabinoid signaling recruits astrocytes to modulate presynaptic function in the suprachiasmatic nucleus

Lauren M. Hablitz, Ali N. Gunesch, Olga Cravetchi, Michael Moldavan, Charles N. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Circadian rhythms are 24-h cycles in physiology regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain, where daily cues act on SCN neurons to alter clock timing. Cannabinoid signaling modulates SCN neuronal activity, although the mechanism remains unclear. We propose that neuronal activity generates endocannabinoid release, activating astrocyte Ca2+ signaling, which releases adenosine and activates adenosine-1 receptors (A1Rs) on the presynaptic axon terminals, decreasing GABA release. We demonstrated, in mice, that activation of cannabinoid-1 receptors (CB1R) with the agonist WIN 55,212-2 (WIN) reduced the miniature GABA receptor-mediated postsynaptic current (mGPSC) frequency by a mechanism that requires astrocytes and A1R. WIN activated an intracellular Ca2+ signaling pathway in astrocytes. Activating this intracellular Ca2+ pathway with designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) also decreased the mGPSC frequency and required A1R activation. The frequency of spontaneous Ca2+ events, including those induced by depolar-ization of a postsynaptic SCN neuron, was reduced by blocking CB1R activation with AM251, demonstrating neuronal endocannabinoid signaling modulates astrocytic Ca2+ signaling in the SCN. Finally, daytime application of WIN or adenosine phase advanced the molecular circadian clock, indicating that this cannabinoid signaling pathway is vital for the timing of circadian rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0081-19.2020
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Astrocyte
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Endocannabinoid
  • GABA
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cannabinoid signaling recruits astrocytes to modulate presynaptic function in the suprachiasmatic nucleus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this