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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 May;95(3):298-307. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

Anxiolytic-like property of risperidone and olanzapine as examined in multiple measures of fear in rats.

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Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Neurodegeneration, Department of Pharmacology, Nanjing Medical University, China.


Atypical antipsychotics are also used in the treatment of anxiety-related disorders. Clinical and preclinical evidence regarding their intrinsic anxiolytic efficacy has been mixed. In this study, we examined the potential anxiolytic-like effects of risperidone and olanzapine, and compared them with haloperidol, chlordiazepoxide (a prototype of sedative-anxiolytic drug) or citalopram (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). We used a composite of two-way avoidance conditioning and acoustic startle reflex model and examined the effects of drug treatments during the acquisition phase (Experiment 1) or extinction phase (Experiments 2 and 3) on multiple measures of conditioned and unconditioned fear/anxiety-like responses. In Experiment 4, we further compared risperidone, olanzapine, haloperidol, citalopram and chlordiazepoxide in a standard elevated plus maze test. Results revealed three distinct anxiolytic-like profiles associated with risperidone, olanzapine and chlordiazepoxide. Risperidone, especially at 1.0mg/kg, significantly decreased the number of avoidance responses, 22kHz ultrasonic vocalization, avoidance conditioning-induced hyperthermia and startle reactivity, but did not affect defecations or time spent on the open arms. Olanzapine (2.0mg/kg, sc) significantly decreased the number of avoidance responses, 22kHz vocalization and amount of defecations, but it did not inhibit startle reactivity and time spent on the open arms. Chlordiazepoxide (10mg/kg, ip) significantly decreased the number of 22kHz vocalization, avoidance conditioning-induced hyperthermia and amount of defecations, and increased time spent on the open arms, but did not decrease avoidance responses or startle reactivity. Haloperidol and citalopram did not display any anxiolytic-like property in these tests. The results highlight the importance of using multiple measures of fear-related responses to delineate behavioral profiles of psychotherapeutic drugs.

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