Developmentally vitamin D-deficient rats show enhanced prepulse inhibition after acute Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol

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Developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency has been proposed as a risk factor for schizophrenia. DVD-deficient rats show selective cognitive deficits and novelty-induced hyperlocomotion and enhanced locomotor responses from acute treatment with psychomimetic drugs, such as amphetamine and MK-801. Here we aimed to examine the effect of a drug from a different class of psychomimetic/psychoactive compounds, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on tasks of relevance to the cognitive and positive symptoms of schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to investigate whether DVD deficiency modulates the behavioural effects of THC on tests of delay-dependent memory, sensorimotor gating and locomotion. Adult control and DVD-deficient rats were injected with THC (0, 0.3, 0.6, 1.25, 2.5 mg/kg) 15 min before a delay match to sample (DMTS) task using variable delays (0–24 s). A separate group of rats was injected with either 2.5 mg/kg THC or vehicle before tests of either prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response or in the open field. Control and DVD-deficient rats showed a similar dose-dependent impairment in performance on the DMTS. The greatest impairment was observed at 2.5 mg/kg for all delays (0–24 s). DVD-deficient rats showed THC-induced enhancement of PPI, which was not observed in control rats. There was no effect of maternal diet on acoustic startle response or locomotor responses in the open field. This study reports the novel findings that DVD-deficient rats were more sensitive to the acute effects of THC on PPI. It appears that prenatal vitamin D deficiency has long-term effects on sensitivity to the behavioural effects of cannabinoids.

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