Attenuation of MK-801-Induced Behavioral Perseveration by Typical and Atypical Antipsychotic Pretreatment in Rats

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The noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist (+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo [a,d] cyclohepten-5–10-imine maleate (MK-801) has been shown to increase the probability of operant responding during extinction and reduce infralimbic prefrontal cortical activation, possibly modeling the cognitive dysfunction symptomology, and underlying cause, in patients with schizophrenia. The present study sought to determine if typical and/or atypical antipsychotics would attenuate the MK-801-induced behavioral perseveration and whether this would be associated with concomitant changes in phosphorylated ERK1/2 (pERK1/2) labeling in the infralimbic cortex (IL). Male, Long Evans rats were pretreated with the typical antipsychotic, Flupenthixol (0, 0.125, 0.25 or 0.5 mg/kg) or the atypical antipsychotic, aripiprazole (0, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 mg/kg), then given 0.1 mg/kg MK-801 followed by a 60-min appetitive operant extinction session. Flupenthixol produced a dose-dependent decrease in MK-801-induced bar pressing behavior and locomotor activity and a dose-dependent increase in IL pERK1/2 labeling. Aripiprazole produced a U-shaped dose-response curve on MK-801-induced bar pressing behavior, a dose-dependent decrease in locomotor activity but no changes in IL pERK1/2 labeling. The attenuation of the MK-801-induced behavioral (bar pressing, locomotion) profile by Flupenthixol indicates a clear dopaminergic contribution to this behavior. The behavioral effect of aripiprazole may be due to its a) binding to presynaptic dopamine receptors at the midrange dose decreasing dopamine output and b) binding to postsynaptic dopamine receptors at the higher dose increasing dopamine tone. While both classes of antipsychotics can normalize perseverative behavioral symptoms, the underlying prefrontal cortical dysregulation seems to persist.

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