Galantamine and donepezil attenuate pharmacologically induced deficits in prepulse inhibition in rats

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Abstract

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) are currently being evaluated as adjunctive therapy for the cognitive dysfunction of schizophrenia. This core symptom of schizophrenia has often been attributed to impaired attention and abnormal sensory motor gating, features that are also found in Huntington's Disease, autism, and several other psychiatric and neurological disorders. The ability to improve prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response may predict the efficacy of compounds as cognitive enhancers. In this study, PPI was disrupted in Wistar rats in three pharmacologic models: dopamine receptor agonism by apomorphine, NMDA receptor antagonism by MK801, or muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonism by scopolamine. We then evaluated the commonly used AChEIs, donepezil (0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg) and galantamine (0.3, 1.0, or 3.0 mg/kg) for the capacity to improve PPI in each model. Under vehicle conditions, the prepulse stimuli (75, 80 and 85 dB) inhibited the startle response to a 120 dB auditory stimulus in a graded fashion. Galantamine (depending on dose) improved PPI deficits in all three PPI disruption models, whereas donepezil ameliorated PPI deficits induced by scopolamine and apomorphine, but was not effective in the MK801 model. These results indicate that some AChEIs may have the potential to improve cognition in schizophrenia by improving auditory sensory gating.

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