Risperidone ameliorates cognitive deficits, promotes hippocampal proliferation, and enhances Notch signaling in a murine model of schizophrenia

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Antipsychotic agents have been reported to promote hippocampal neurogenesis and improve cognitive deficits; yet, the molecular mechanisms underlying these actions remain unclear. In the present study, we used a murine model of schizophrenia induced by 5-day intraperitoneal injection with the non-competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist MK801 (0.3 mg/kg/day) to assess cognitive behavioral deficits, changes in Notch signaling, and cellular proliferation in the hippocampus of adult male C57BL/6 mice after 2-week administration of risperidone (Rip, 0.2 mg/kg/day) or vehicle. We then utilized in vivo stereotaxic injections of a lentivirus expressing a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) for Notch1 into the dentate gyrus to examine the role of Notch1 in the observed actions of Rip. We found that Rip ameliorated cognitive deficits and restored cell proliferation in MK801-treated mice in a manner associated with the up-regulation of Notch signaling molecules, including Notch1, Hes1, and Hes5. Moreover, these effects were abolished by pretreatment with Notch1 shRNA. Our results suggest that the ability of Rip to improve cognitive function in schizophrenia is mediated in part by Notch signaling.

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