Sex differences in psychotomimetic-induced behaviours in rats
Animal model studies using equal numbers of males and females are sparse in psychiatry research. Given the marked sex differences observed in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, using both males and females in research studies is an important requirement. Thus the aim of this study was to examine sex differences in psychotomimetic-induced behavioural deficits relevant to psychosis. We therefore compared the acute effect of amphetamine or phencyclidine on locomotor activity and prepulse inhibition in adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. The results of this study were that: (1) amphetamine-induced distance travelled was greater in female rats than in male rats, (2) phencyclidine-induced locomotor hyperactivity was similar in male and female rats; (3) there were no sex differences in amphetamine- or phencyclidine-induced disruption of prepulse inhibition; (4) male rats had an increased startle response after amphetamine. These findings suggest that sensitivity to amphetamine, but not phencyclidine, differs between male and female rats, and that this sex difference is selective to locomotor hyperactivity and startle, but not prepulse inhibition. This study used two widely-used, validated preclinical assays relevant to psychosis; the results of this study have implications for psychiatry research, particularly for disorders where marked sex differences in onset and symptomology are observed.