Differences in Spontaneously Avoiding or Approaching Mice Reflect Differences in CB1-Mediated Signaling of Dorsal Striatal Transmission
by Daniela Laricchiuta, Silvia Rossi, Alessandra Musella, Valentina De Chiara, Debora Cutuli, Diego Centonze, Laura Petrosini
Approach or avoidance behaviors are accompanied by perceptual vigilance for, affective reactivity to and behavioral predisposition towards rewarding or punitive stimuli, respectively. We detected three subpopulations of C57BL/6J mice that responded with avoiding, balancing or approaching behaviors not induced by any experimental manipulation but spontaneously displayed in an approach/avoidance conflict task. Although the detailed neuronal mechanisms underlying the balancing between approach and avoidance are not fully clarified, there is growing evidence that endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a critical role in the control of these balancing actions. The sensitivity of dorsal striatal synapses to the activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors was investigated in the subpopulations of spontaneously avoiding, balancing or approaching mice. Avoiding animals displayed decreased control of CB1 receptors on GABAergic striatal transmission and in parallel increase of behavioral inhibition. Conversely, approaching animals exhibited increased control of CB1 receptors and in parallel increase of explorative behavior. Balancing animals reacted with balanced responses between approach and avoidance patterns. Treating avoiding animals with URB597 (fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor) or approaching animals with AM251 (CB1 receptor inverse agonist) reverted their respective behavioral and electrophysiological patterns. Therefore, enhanced or reduced CB1-mediated control on dorsal striatal transmission represents the synaptic hallmark of the approach or avoidance behavior, respectively. Thus, the opposite spontaneous responses to conflicting stimuli are modulated by a different involvement of endocannabinoid signaling of dorsal striatal neurons in the range of temperamental traits related to individual differences.
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