Cristina Cantarella

University of Rome Tor Vergata, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (6)28.36 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) plays a crucial role in emotional control, and inhibition of its degradation by the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) has a potent antianxiety effect. The mechanism by which the magnification of AEA activity reduces anxiety is still largely undetermined. By using FAAH mutant mice and both intraperitoneal and intracerebroventricular administration of the FAAH inhibitor (3'-(aminocarbonyl)[1,1'-biphenyl]-3-yl)-cyclohexylcarbamate (URB597), we found that enhanced AEA signaling reversed, via central cannabinoid CB1 receptors (CB1Rs), the anxious phenotype of mice exposed to social defeat stress. This behavioral effect was associated with preserved activity of CB1Rs regulating GABA transmission in the striatum, whereas these receptors were dramatically down-regulated by stress in control animals. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis was not involved in the antistress effects of FAAH inhibition, although the HPA axis is a biological target of endogenous AEA. We also provided some physiological indications that striatal CB1Rs regulating GABA synapses are not the receptor targets of FAAH inhibition, which rather resulted in the stimulation of striatal CB1Rs regulating glutamate transmission. Collectively, our findings suggest that preservation of cannabinoid CB1 receptor function within the striatum is a possible synaptic correlate of the antianxiety effects of FAAH inhibition.
    Molecular pharmacology 08/2010; 78(2):260-8. · 4.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in emotional processes suggests an interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Here, we addressed the functional interplay between BDNF and cannabinoid CB(1) receptors (CB(1)Rs) in the striatum, a brain area in which both BDNF and CB(1)s play a role in the emotional consequences of stress and of rewarding experiences. BDNF potently inhibited CB(1)R function in the striatum, through a mechanism mediated by altered cholesterol metabolism and membrane lipid raft function. The effect of BDNF was restricted to CB(1)Rs controlling GABA-mediated IPSCs (CB(1)R(GABA)), whereas CB(1)Rs modulating glutamate transmission and GABA(B) receptors were not affected. The action of BDNF on CB(1)R(GABA) function was tyrosine kinase dependent and was complete even after receptor sensitization with cocaine or environmental manipulations activating the dopamine (DA)-dependent reward system. In mice lacking one copy of the BDNF gene (BDNF(+/-)), CB(1)R(GABA) responses were potentiated and were preserved from the action of haloperidol, a DA D(2) receptor (D(2)R) antagonist able to fully abolish CB(1)R(GABA) function in rewarded animals. Haloperidol also enhanced BDNF levels in the striatum, suggesting that this neurotrophin may act as a downstream effector of D(2)Rs in the modulation of cannabinoid signaling. Accordingly, 5 d cocaine exposure both reduced striatal BDNF levels and increased CB(1)R(GABA) activity, through a mechanism dependent on D(2)Rs. The present study identifies a novel mechanism of CB(1)R regulation mediated by BDNF and cholesterol metabolism and provides some evidence that DA D(2)R-dependent modulation of striatal CB(1)R activity is mediated by this neurotrophin.
    Journal of Neuroscience 06/2010; 30(24):8127-37. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurotransmitter acetylcholine (Ach) controls both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in the striatum. Here, we investigated the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in Ach-mediated inhibition of striatal GABA transmission, and the potential role of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels in the control of Ach-endocannabinoid coupling. We found that inhibition of Ach degradation and direct pharmacological stimulation of muscarinic M1 receptors reduced striatal inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) through the stimulation of 2-arachidonoylglicerol (2AG) synthesis and the activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors. The effects of M1 receptor activation on IPSCs were occlusive with those of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 stimulation, and were prevented in the presence of capsaicin, agonist of TRPV1 channels. Elevation of anandamide (AEA) tone with URB597, a blocker of fatty acid amide hydrolase, mimicked the effects of capsaicin, indicating that endogenous AEA acts as an endovanilloid substance in the control of M1-dependent 2AG-mediated synaptic effects in the striatum. Accordingly, both capsaicin and URB597 effects were absent in mice lacking TRPV1 channels. Pharmacological interventions targeting AEA metabolism and TRPV1 channels might be considered alternative therapeutic routes in disorders of striatal cholinergic or endocannabinoid neurotransmission.
    Neuroscience 02/2010; 167(3):864-71. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Voluntary exercise is beneficial in models of primarily neurodegenerative disorders. Whether exercise also affects inflammatory neurodegeneration is unknown. In the present study, we evaluated the clinical, synaptic and neuropathological effects of voluntary wheel running in mice with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of multiple sclerosis. Exercising EAE mice exhibited less severe neurological deficits compared to control EAE animals. The sensitivity of striatal GABA synapses to the stimulation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors was dramatically downregulated following EAE induction, and was rescued by exercise in EAE mice with access to a running wheel. Finally, we found that exercise was able to contrast dendritic spine loss induced by EAE in striatal neurons, although the degree of inflammatory response was similar in the two experimental groups. Our work suggests that life style and experiences can impact the clinical course of inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases by affecting their synaptic bases.
    Neurobiology of Disease 08/2009; 36(1):51-9. · 5.62 Impact Factor
  • Cristina Cantarella, Myriam Cayre, Karine Magalon, Pascale Durbec
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    ABSTRACT: In the adult rodent brain, the subventricular zone (SVZ) represents a special niche for neural stem cells; these cells proliferate and generate neural progenitors. Most of these migrate along the rostral migratory stream to the olfactory bulb, where they differentiate into interneurons. SVZ-derived progenitors can also be recruited spontaneously to damaged brain areas to replace lost cells, including oligodendrocytes in demyelinated lesions. In this study, we searched for factors able to enhance this spontaneous recruitment of endogenous progenitors. Previous studies have suggested that epidermal growth factor (EGF) could stimulate proliferation, migration, and glial differentiation of SVZ progenitors. In the present study we examined EGF influence on endogenous SVZ cell participation to brain repair in the context of demyelinated lesions. We induced a focal demyelinated lesion in the corpus callosum by lysolecithin injection and showed that intranasal heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF) administration induces a significant increase in SVZ cell proliferation together with a stronger SVZ cell mobilization toward the lesions. Besides, HB-EGF causes a shift of SVZ-derived progenitor cell differentiation toward the astrocytic lineage. However, due to the threefold increase in cell recruitment by EGF treatment, the absolute number of SVZ-derived oligodendrocytes in the lesion of treated mice is higher than in controls. These results suggest that enhancing SVZ cell proliferation could be part of future strategies to promote SVZ progenitor cell mobilization toward brain lesions.
    Developmental Neurobiology 03/2008; 68(2):223-36. · 4.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of adult neural stem cells, mobilization of endogenous stem cells from the subventricular zone (SVZ) emerges as a promising strategy to promote brain repair. Here, we examined the effect of environment enrichment on SVZ cell mobilization in demyelinating pathologies. We showed that enriched housing conditions reduced functional impairment in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a rodent model of multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, both in a focal demyelination model (lysolecithin injection) and in the inflammatory EAE model, SVZ mitotic activity and the number of SVZ-derived cells in demyelinated areas were significantly increased by environment enrichment. Enriched housing conditions also promoted the oligodendrocyte fate of SVZ-recruited cells in the EAE lesions. Altogether our results show that environment enrichment provides beneficial conditions to promote the mobilization of neural progenitors into demyelinating lesions and to favour functional recovery.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 03/2007; 25(3):761-71. · 3.75 Impact Factor