Interferon-γ causes mood abnormalities by altering cannabinoid CB1 receptor function in the mouse striatum

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Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and in its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The type-1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) are heavily involved in MS pathophysiology, and a growing body of evidence suggests that mood disturbances reflect specific effects of proinflammatory cytokines on neuronal activity. Here, we investigated whether IFN-γ could exert a role in the anxiety- and depressive-like behavior observed in mice with EAE, and in the modulation of CB1Rs. Anxiety and depression in fact are often diagnosed in MS, and have already been shown to depend on cannabinoid system. We performed biochemical, behavioral and electrophysiological experiments to assess the role of IFN-γ on mood control and on synaptic transmission in mice. Intracerebroventricular delivery of IFN-γ caused a depressive- and anxiety-like behavior in mice, associated with the selective dysfunction of CB1Rs controlling GABA transmission in the striatum. EAE induction was associated with increased striatal expression of IFN-γ, and with CB1R transmission deficits, which were rescued by pharmacological blockade of IFN-γ. IFN-γ was unable to replicate the effects of EAE on excitatory and inhibitory transmission in the striatum, but mimicked the effects of EAE on CB1R function in this brain area. Overall these results indicate that IFN-γ exerts a relevant control on mood, through the modulation of CB1R function. A better understanding of the biological pathways underling the psychological disorders during neuroinflammatory conditions is crucial for developing effective therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Striatum
  • Type-1 cannabinoid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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