Discovering the lost reward: Critical locations for endocannabinoid modulation of the cortico–striatal loop that are implicated in major depression

Sari Goldstein Ferber, Aron Weller, Gal Yadid, Alexander Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Depression, the most prevalent psychiatric disorder in the Western world, is character-ized by increased negative affect (i.e., depressed mood, cost value increase) and reduced positive affect (i.e., anhedonia, reward value decrease), fatigue, loss of appetite, and reduced psychomotor activity except for cases of agitative depression. Some forms, such as post-partum depression, have a high risk for suicidal attempts. Recent studies in humans and in animal models relate major depression occurrence and reoccurrence to alterations in dopaminergic activity, in addition to other neurotransmitter systems. Imaging studies detected decreased activity in the brain reward circuits in major depression. Therefore, the location of dopamine receptors in these circuits is relevant for understanding major depression. Interestingly, in cortico–striatal–dopaminergic pathways within the reward and cost circuits, the expression of dopamine and its contribution to reward are modulated by endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are enriched in the striosomal compartment of striatum that selectively projects to dopaminergic neurons of substantia nigra compacta and is vulnerable to stress. This review aims to show the crosstalk between endocannabinoid and dopamine receptors and their vulnerability to stress in the reward circuits, especially in corticostriatal regions. The implications for novel treatments of major depression are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1867
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Endocannabinoid receptors
  • Striosomes
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Ventral tegmental area (VTA)

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