AbstractHippocampal hyperactivity driven by GABAergic interneuron deficits and NMDA receptor hypofunction is associated with the hyperdopaminergic state often observed in schizophrenia. Previous research in the methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) rat model has demonstrated that repeated peripubertal diazepam administration can prevent the emergence of adult hippocampal hyperactivity, hyperdopaminergia, and associated psychosis-relevant behaviors. Here, we sought to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these promising effects of diazepam by characterizing hippocampal GABAA and NMDA receptors in MAM-treated rats exposed to either vehicle or diazepam peripubertally. Quantitative receptor autoradiography was used to measure receptor density in dorsal hippocampus CA1, ventral hippocampus CA1, and in ventral subiculum. Specifically, [3H]-Ro15-4513 was used to quantify the density of α5 GABAA receptors (α5GABAAR), [3H]-flumazenil to quantify α1-3;5GABAAR, and [3H]-MK801 to quantify NMDA receptors. MAM rats exhibited anxiety and schizophrenia-relevant behaviors as measured by elevated plus maze and amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion (AIH), although diazepam only partially rescued these behaviors. α5GABAAR density was reduced in MAM-treated rats in all hippocampal sub-regions, and negatively correlated with AIH. Ventral hippocampus CA1 α5GABAAR density was positively correlated with anxiety-like behavior. Dorsal hippocampus CA1 NMDA receptor density was increased in MAM-treated rats, and positively correlated with AIH. [3H]-Flumazenil revealed no significant effects. Finally, we found no significant effect of diazepam treatment on receptor densities, potentially related to the only partial rescue of schizophrenia-relevant phenotypes. Overall, our findings provide first evidence of α5GABAAR and NMDA receptor abnormalities in the MAM model, suggesting that more selective pharmacological agents may become a novel therapeutic mechanism in schizophrenia.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory