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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Aug;30(8):1426-35.

Prenatal disruption of neocortical development alters prefrontal cortical neuron responses to dopamine in adult rats.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


A growing body of evidence suggests that structural changes in the cortex may disrupt dopaminergic transmission in circuits involving the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and may contribute to the etiology of schizophrenia. In this study, we utilize a rodent model of neonatal disruption of cortical development using prenatal administration of the mitotoxin methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM). Using intracellular recordings in vivo, we compare the physiology of prefrontal cortical neurons and their responses to topical administration of dopamine (DA) in intact animals and adult rats treated prenatally with MAM. Topical administration of DA hyperpolarized the membrane potential (MP) and decreased the firing rate of neurons recorded in deep layers of the PFC in intact animals. Furthermore, electrical stimulation of the VTA evoked fast onset epsps or long-lasting depolarizations in PFC neurons. In comparison, PFC neurons recorded in MAM-treated animals had significantly faster baseline firing rates. Moreover, topical administration of DA did not affect the MP or firing rate of the neurons in MAM-treated animals. However, MAM-treated animals exhibited an increase in the percentage of neurons responding with long-lasting depolarizations to stimulation of the VTA. The results of this study indicate that PFC neurons in the MAM-treated rats are not responsive to DA administered superficially, while at the same time exhibit greater responsiveness to VTA stimulation. These results are consistent with a rewiring of the corticolimbic system in response to neurodevelopmental insults.

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