Endocannabinoid release from a single neuron has been shown to cause presynaptic inhibition of transmitter release at many different sites. Here, we demonstrate that hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons release endocannabinoids continuously under basal conditions, unlike other release sites at which endocannabinoid production must be stimulated. The basal endocannabinoid release selectively inhibited GABA release onto POMC neurons, although exogenous administration of cannabinoid agonists also inhibited glutamate release. The CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist AM 251 [N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H- pyrazole-3-carboxamide] blocked endocannabinoid-mediated inhibition of GABA release without affecting excitatory synaptic currents, whereas the CB1 receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2 [R-(+)-(2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(4-morpholinyl)methyl] pyrol [1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl)(1-naphthalenyl) methanone monomethanesulfonate] inhibited both inhibitory and excitatory synaptic currents in POMC neurons. These data demonstrate that endogenously released cannabinoids and exogenously applied CB1 receptor agonists can have markedly different effects on synaptic inputs. Furthermore, the data suggest a novel form of endocannabinoid-mediated retrograde inhibition, whereby the regulation of a subset of inputs requires either the removal of tonic presynaptic inhibition caused by endocannabinoids or the engagement of a mechanism that actively inhibits endocannabinoid production.
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