Enhanced interaction among ErbB4, PSD-95 and NMDAR by chronic MK-801 treatment is associated with behavioral abnormalities

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The neuregulin 1 (NRG1)–ErbB4 signaling pathway has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Recent studies suggest that this pathway may interact with the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) via the postsynaptic scaffold protein PSD-95. This interaction is of particular interest given the leading role of the NMDAR hypofunction in schizophrenia. The present study investigated the short- and long-term effects of chronic NMDAR blockade on the functional interaction between the two systems in rat prefrontal cortex and hippocampus using immunoprecipitation. Adult male Wistar rats were treated intraperitoneally with MK-801 (0.25 mg/kg) or saline for 28 days. Twenty-four hours after the last injection, the associations of ErbB4 with PSD-95 and NMDAR were enhanced in the prefrontal cortex, whereas only phosphorylated-ErbB4 relative to ErbB4 was increased in the hippocampus. These effects, however, were not detectable 12 days after the last MK-801 treatment, indicating the reversible nature of these changes. We also investigated the effects of chronic MK-801 treatment on locomotion, prepulse inhibition, recognition memory, and spatial working memory. The results showed that this treatment led to decreased locomotor activity, reduced exploration in the center arena, and elevated startle magnitudes, indicating an anxiety-like phenotype. Taken together, our findings suggest that the NRG1–ErbB4 signaling could be modulated by repeated NMDAR blockade, and provide further evidence for the cross-talk between the two signaling pathways.

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