Endocannabinoid signaling in the amygdala: anatomy, synaptic signaling, behavior, and adaptations to stress.


The molecular constituents of endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling are abundantly expressed within the mammalian amygdaloid complex, consistent with the robust role of eCB signaling in the modulation of emotional behavior, learning, and stress-response physiology. Here, we detail the anatomical distribution of eCB signaling machinery in the amygdala and the role of this system in the modulation of excitatory and inhibitory neuroplasticity in this region. We also summarize recent findings demonstrating dynamic alternations in eCB signaling that occur in response to stress exposure, as well as known behavioral consequences of eCB-mediated modulation of amygdala function. Finally, we discuss how integrating anatomical and physiological data regarding eCB signaling in the amygdala could help elucidate common functional motifs of this system in relation to broader forebrain function.