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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Mar;42(4):963-973. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.173. Epub 2016 Aug 31.

Haloperidol Selectively Remodels Striatal Indirect Pathway Circuits.

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Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.


Typical antipsychotic drugs are widely thought to alleviate the positive symptoms of schizophrenia by antagonizing dopamine D2 receptors expressed by striatal spiny projection neurons (SPNs). What is less clear is why antipsychotics have a therapeutic latency of weeks. Using a combination of physiological and anatomical approaches in ex vivo brain slices from transgenic mice, it was found that 2 weeks of haloperidol treatment induced both intrinsic and synaptic adaptations specifically within indirect pathway SPNs (iSPNs). Perphenazine treatment had similar effects. Some of these adaptations were homeostatic, including a drop in intrinsic excitability and pruning of excitatory corticostriatal glutamatergic synapses. However, haloperidol treatment also led to strengthening of a subset of excitatory corticostriatal synapses. This slow remodeling of corticostriatal iSPN circuitry is likely to play a role in mediating the delayed therapeutic action of neuroleptics.

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