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Epilepsy Res. 1996 Dec;26(1):295-304.

Kindling with clozapine: behavioral and molecular consequences.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Oregon Health Sciences, University of Portland 97201, USA.


Clozapine is an 'atypical' neuroleptic that improves symptoms of many patients with schizophrenia whose illness is resistant to treatment with other neuroleptics. Unlike the 'typical neuroleptics (chlorpromazine, haloperidol), clozapine does not induce extrapyramidal symptoms such as Parkinsonism and tardive dyskinesia in humans or catalepsy in the rat. However, clozapine frequently causes epileptiform EEG changes and causes seizures in 3-5% of patients treated with this drug in therapeutic doses. Clozapine also induces dose dependent myoclonus in the partially restrained rat. In the experiments reported here, partially restrained rats were administered repeated alternate day or weekly low, fixed doses of clozapine (1 mg/kg). This dose initially caused no behavioral change. Following the third and subsequent administrations, the same dose elicited an increasing number of myoclonic seizure-like jerks reaching 140/h following the 15th injection in rats receiving the same low dose of clozapine on alternate days and 160/h following the 9th injection in animals that received the same dose once weekly. These effects are consistent with kindling, i.e. a progressive increase of brain excitability following repeated administration of a fixed subconvulsive dose of an excitatory agent. Clozapine kindled animals exhibited a significantly different pattern of early gene expression in ventral tegmental area, origin of the mesolimbic-mesocortical dopamine system and in the anterior thalamic nuclei, compared with saline treated controls subjected to exactly the same recording conditions. The evidence of central nervous system excitation with clozapine may be important to the unique therapeutic effect of this atypical antipsychotic in the treatment of symptoms, especially the deficit symptoms, of schizophrenia.

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