Repeated phencyclidine administration alters glutamate release and decreases GABA markers in the prefrontal cortex of rats

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Repeated phencyclidine (PCP) administration induces cognitive disruptions resembling those seen in schizophrenia. Alterations in glutamate transmission and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) function in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) have been implicated in these PCP-induced deficits, as well as in cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. PCP-induced cognitive deficits are reversed by chronic treatment with the atypical antipsychotic clozapine in rats. We investigated the effects of a single injection vs. repeated administration of PCP on glutamate levels in the PFC using in vivo microdialysis. Furthermore, we examined how these PCP regimens affect GABA neuronal markers in the PFC. Finally, we investigated the effects of clozapine on disruptions in glutamate levels and GABA neuronal markers induced by repeated PCP administration. Acute PCP administration (2 mg/kg) increased extracellular PFC glutamate; this increase appeared blunted, but was not eliminated, after repeated PCP pretreatment. PCP administration also strongly decreased levels of parvalbumin and glutamic acid decarboxylase-67 (two markers of GABA function) in the PFC, an effect that was maintained after a 10 day drug-free washout period and unaltered by the resumption of repeated PCP injections. All of the observed PCP effects were attenuated by chronic treatment with clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic that has partial effectiveness on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. These findings suggest that abnormal cortical glutamate transmission, possibly driven by pathological changes in GABA function in parvalbumin-positive fast-spiking interneurons, may underlie some of the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. A better understanding of glutamate and GABA dysregulation in schizophrenia may uncover new treatment targets for schizophrenia-related cognitive dysfunction.

This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Schizophrenia’.


▸ Repeated PCP administration increased glutamate release in the PFC of rats. ▸ The repeated PCP-induced increase in PFC glutamate was blunted compared with that seen after a single PCP injection. ▸ Repeated PCP administration decreased markers of GABA function in the PFC. ▸ Clozapine attenuated the PCP-induced changes in glutamate and GABA function.

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