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Behav Brain Res. 2010 Sep 1;212(1):64-70. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.03.041. Epub 2010 Apr 9.

Subchronic MK-801 treatment and post-weaning social isolation in rats: differential effects on locomotor activity and hippocampal long-term potentiation.

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Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada.


Subchronic NMDA receptor antagonist treatment and post-weaning social isolation are two animal models of schizophrenia symptoms. However, behavioral and physiological changes following a combination of these two procedures have not been investigated. Thus, we examined effects of a novel, "double hit" model combining these two treatments, comparing them to standard models involving only NMDA antagonist treatment or social isolation. Male, Sprague-Dawley rats were either group-housed or maintained in social isolation (starting at postnatal day [PD] 21 and continuing throughout the study). Each housing condition was further subdivided into two groups, receiving either subchronic treatment with either saline or MK-801 (0.5mg/kg, i.p., 2xday for seven days starting at PD 56). Post-weaning social isolation increased locomotor activity (assessed at PD 70) in response to a novel environment and an acute amphetamine injection, while subchronic MK-801 increased only amphetamine induced locomotor activity. Subsequent electrophysiological experiments (under urethane anesthesia) assessing changes in plasticity of hippocampal synapses showed that subchronic MK-801 treatment resulted in an increase in long-term potentiation in area CA1 in response to high frequency stimulation of the contralateral CA3 area, while housing condition had no effect. No other changes in hippocampal electrophysiology (input-output curves, paired-pulse facilitation) were observed. These data are the first to demonstrate an enhancement in hippocampal long-term plasticity in vivo following subchronic MK-801 administration, an effect that may be related to the well-characterized changes in glutamatergic and GABAergic systems seen after subchronic NMDA receptor blockade. That lack of additive or synergistic effects in the "double hit model" suggests that combining isolation and subchronic MK-801 treatment does not necessarily produce greater behavioral or physiological dysfunction than that seen with either treatment alone.

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