|J Clin Invest. 2019 Dec 24. pii: 131752. doi: 10.1172/JCI131752. [Epub ahead of print]|
An endocannabinoid-regulated basolateral amygdala-nucleus accumbens circuit modulates sociability.
Folkes OM, Báldi R, Kondev V, Marcus DJ, Hartley ND, Turner BD, Ayers JK, Baechle JJ, Misra MP, Altemus M, Grueter CA, Grueter BA, Patel S.
Deficits in social interaction (SI) are a core symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), however treatments for social deficits are notably lacking. Elucidating brain circuits and neuromodulatory signaling systems that regulate sociability could facilitate a deeper understanding of ASD pathophysiology and reveal novel treatments for ASD. Here we found that in vivo optogenetic activation of the basolateral amygdala-nucleus accumbens (BLA-NAc) glutamatergic circuit reduced SI and increased social avoidance in mice. Furthermore, we found that 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling reduced BLA-NAc glutamatergic activity, and that pharmacological 2-AG augmentation via administration of JZL184 blocked SI deficits associated with in vivo BLA-NAc stimulation. Additionally, optogenetic inhibition of the BLA-NAc circuit significantly increased SI in the Shank3B-/-, an ASD model with substantial SI impairment, without affecting SI in wild-type mice. Finally, we demonstrated that JZL184 delivered systemically or directly to the NAc also normalized SI deficits in Shank3B-/-mice, while ex vivo JZL184 application corrected aberrant NAc excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission and reduced BLA-NAc-elicited feedforward inhibition of NAc neurons in Shank3B-/- mice. These data reveal circuit-level and neuromodulatory mechanisms regulating social function relevant to ASD and suggest 2-AG augmentation could reduce social deficits via modulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the NAc.