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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Mar;101(1):107-14. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2011.12.010. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Reversal of scopolamine-induced disruption of prepulse inhibition by clozapine in mice.

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Laboratory of Behavioural Neurobiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Schorenstrasse 16, CH 8603 Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.


Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle reflex refers to the reduction of the startle response to an intense acoustic pulse stimulus when it is shortly preceded by a weak non-startling prepulse stimulus and provides a cross-species measure of sensory-motor gating. PPI is typically impaired in schizophrenia patients, and a similar impairment can be induced in rats by systemic scopolamine, a muscarinic cholinergic receptor antagonist that can evoke a range of cognitive and psychotic symptoms in healthy humans that are commonly referred to as the "anti-muscarinic syndrome" resembling some clinical features of schizophrenia. Scopolamine-induced PPI disruption has therefore been proposed as an anti-muscarinic animal model of schizophrenia, but parallel investigations in the mouse remain scant and the outcomes are mixed and often confounded by an elevation of startle reactivity. Here, we distinguished the PPI-disruptive and the confounding startle-enhancing effects of scopolamine (1 and 10mg/kg, i.p.) in C57BL/6 wild-type mice by showing that the latter partly stemmed from a shift in spontaneous baseline reactivity. With appropriate correction for between-group differences in startle reactivity, we went on to confirm that the PPI-disruptive effect of scopolamine could be nullified by clozapine pre-treatment (1.5mg/kg, i.p.) in a dose-dependent manner. This is the first demonstration that scopolamine-induced PPI disruption is sensitive to atypical antipsychotic drugs. In concert with previous data showing its sensitivity to haloperidol the present finding supports the predictive validity of the anti-muscarinic PPI disruption model for both typical and atypical antipsychotic drug action.

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