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Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 8;6:36680. doi: 10.1038/srep36680.

The role of P2X7 receptors in a rodent PCP-induced schizophrenia model.

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Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IEM HAS), H-1450 Budapest, Hungary.
János Szentágothai School of Neurosciences, Semmelweis University School of PhD Studies, Budapest, Hungary.
Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, H-1089 Budapest, Hungary.
Janssen Research &Development, LLC, Neuroscience TA, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.
Department of Behavioral Neurobiology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IEM HAS), H-1450, Budapest, Hungary.


P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs) are ligand-gated ion channels sensitive to extracellular ATP. Here we examined for the first time the role of P2X7R in an animal model of schizophrenia. Using the PCP induced schizophrenia model we show that both genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of P2X7Rs alleviate schizophrenia-like behavioral alterations. In P2rx7+/+ mice, PCP induced hyperlocomotion, stereotype behavior, ataxia and social withdrawal. In P2X7 receptor deficient mice (P2rx7-/-), the social interactions were increased, whereas the PCP induced hyperlocomotion and stereotype behavior were alleviated. The selective P2X7 receptor antagonist JNJ-47965567 partly replicated the effect of gene deficiency on PCP-induced behavioral changes and counteracted PCP-induced social withdrawal. We also show that PCP treatment upregulates and increases the functional responsiveness of P2X7Rs in the prefrontal cortex of young adult animals. The amplitude of NMDA evoked currents recorded from layer V pyramidal neurons of cortical slices were slightly decreased by both genetic deletion of P2rx7 and by JNJ-47965567. PCP induced alterations in mRNA expression encoding schizophrenia-related genes, such as NR2A, NR2B, neuregulin 1, NR1 and GABA α1 subunit were absent in the PFC of young adult P2rx7-/- animals. Our findings point to P2X7R as a potential therapeutic target in schizophrenia.

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