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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Nov;15(10):1441-55. doi: 10.1017/S146114571100157X. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

A preclinical assessment of d.l-govadine as a potential antipsychotic and cognitive enhancer.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Canada.


Tetrahydroprotoberberines (THPBs) are compounds derived from traditional Chinese medicine and increasing preclinical evidence suggests efficacy in treatment of a wide range of symptoms observed in schizophrenia. A receptor-binding profile of the THPB, d.l-govadine (d.l-Gov), reveals high affinity for dopamine and noradrenaline receptors, efficacy as a D2 receptor antagonist, brain penetrance in the 10-300 ng/g range, and thus motivated an assessment of the antipsychotic and pro-cognitive properties of this compound in the rat. Increased dopamine efflux in the prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens, measured by microdialysis, is observed following subcutaneous injection of the drug. d.l-Gov inhibits both conditioned avoidance responding (CAR) and amphetamine-induced locomotion (AIL) at lower doses than clozapine (CAR ED50: d.l-Gov 0.72 vs. clozapine 7.70 mg/kg; AIL ED50: d.l-Gov 1.70 vs. clozapine 4.27 mg/kg). Catalepsy is not detectable at low biologically relevant doses, but is observed at higher doses. Consistent with previous reports, acute d-amphetamine disrupts latent inhibition (LI) while a novel finding of enhanced LI is observed in sensitized animals. Treatment with d.l-Gov prior to conditioned stimulus (CS) pre-exposure restores LI to levels observed in controls in both sensitized animals and those treated acutely with d-amphetamine. Finally, possible pro-cognitive properties of d.l-Gov are assessed with the spatial delayed win-shift task. Subcutaneous injection of 1.0 mg/kg d.l-Gov failed to affect errors at a 30-min delay, but decreased errors observed at a 12-h delay. Collectively, these data provide the first evidence that d.l-Gov may have antipsychotic properties in conjunction with pro-cognitive effects, lending further support to the hypothesis that THPBs are a class of compounds which merit serious consideration as novel treatments for schizophrenia.

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