Early neuromodulation prevents the development of brain and behavioral abnormalities in a rodent model of schizophrenia
The notion that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which neuropathologies evolve gradually over the developmental course indicates a potential therapeutic window during which pathophysiological processes may be modified to halt disease progression or reduce its severity. Here we used a neurodevelopmental maternal immune stimulation (MIS) rat model of schizophrenia to test whether early targeted modulatory intervention would affect schizophrenia's neurodevelopmental course. We applied deep brain stimulation (DBS) or sham stimulation to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of adolescent MIS rats and respective controls, and investigated its behavioral, biochemical, brain-structural and -metabolic effects in adulthood. We found that mPFC-DBS successfully prevented the emergence of deficits in sensorimotor gating, attentional selectivity and executive function in adulthood, as well as the enlargement of lateral ventricle volumes and mal-development of dopaminergic and serotonergic transmission. These data suggest that the mPFC may be a valuable target for effective preventive treatments. This may have significant translational value, suggesting that targeting the mPFC before the onset of psychosis via less invasive neuromodulation approaches may be a viable preventive strategy.