Epilepsy is a devastating disease, with cognitive and emotional consequences that are not curable. In recent years, it became apparent that cannabinoids help patients to cope with epilepsy. We have studied the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on the ability to produce long term potentiation (LTP) in stratum radiatum of CA1 region of the mouse hippocampus. Exposure to seizure-producing pilocarpine reduced the ability to generate LTP in the slice. Pre-exposure to CBD prevented this effect of pilocarpine. Furthermore, CBD caused a marked increase in ability to generate LTP, an effect that was blocked by calcium store antagonists as well as by a reduction in serotonin tone. Serotonin, possibly acting as a 5HT1A receptor, or fenfluramine (FFA), which causes release of serotonin from its native terminals, mimicked the effect of CBD. It is proposed that CBD enhances non-NMDA LTP in the slice by facilitating release of serotonin from terminals, consequently ameliorating the detrimental effects of pilocarpine.
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