Short- and long-term behavioral analysis of social interaction, ultrasonic vocalizations and social motivation in a chronic phencyclidine model

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Phencyclidine (PCP) has been suggested to induce symptoms of schizophrenia. However, animal models using PCP administration have produced ambiguous results thus far. It seems that acute effects are similar to symptoms of schizophrenia, however, it is not clear if PCP can induce permanent behavioral changes that reflect schizophrenic-like symptoms. Therefore, we assessed the ability of chronic PCP administration (3 mg/kg, 14 days) to induce short or long lasting behavioral changes in rats. Social behavior, including ultrasonic vocalizations and motivation for social contact were investigated at different time points, up to 29–36 days, after cessation of PCP treatment. During a social separation test, performed at 5 and 36 days, PCP treated rats spent less time near the divider that separates them from their familiar cage mate compared with saline (SAL) treated rats. Further, at short term, PCP was able to induce a decrease in social behavior. In contrast, at long-term, PCP treated animals spent more time in contact when exposed to an unfamiliar partner as compared to SAL treated rats. But, this difference was not observed when exposed to a familiar partner. We did not find any difference in ultrasonic vocalizations at all time points. The results of our study indicate that PCP is unable to induce overt long term deficits in social interaction behavior. Rather, it seems that PCP diminishes motivation for social contact. The long-term consequences of chronic PCP administration on social behavior in rodent models remain complex, and future studies addressing this are still needed.

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