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Behav Brain Res. 2011 Sep 23;222(2):299-308. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.053. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Effect of cannabidiol in a MK-801-rodent model of aspects of schizophrenia.

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Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Action, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, 381 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia.


Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid which, based on several previous preclinical and clinical reports, is purported to have antipsychotic potential. The purpose of this investigation was to further investigate if these effects would be seen using an MK-801-induced rat model of aspects of schizophrenia. MK-801 is an NMDA receptor-antagonist known to produce hyperactivity, deficits in prepulse inhibition and social withdrawal, behaviours which correlate well with some of the positive, cognitive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Following a 4-day acclimatisation to the holding room, rats were acclimatised to startle chambers on day 5 and their prepulse inhibition (PPI) determined on day 6 following treatment with cannabidiol or vehicle and MK-801 or vehicle. On day 9, rats were acclimatised to the social interaction testing arena and on day 10, were tested for social interaction and locomotor activity following the same treatments. Cannabidiol treatment alone disrupted PPI and produced hyperactivity but had no effect on social behaviour. Cannabidiol had no effect on MK-801-induced disruption of PPI or hyperactivity but showed potential towards inhibiting MK-801-induced social withdrawal. As a comparator, we also tested the effect of the atypical antipsychotic clozapine which only partially reversed MK-801-induced disruption of PPI but was able to reverse MK-801-induced hyperactivity and social withdrawal. In conclusion, cannabidiol showed both propsychotic activity and partial antipsychotic activity in an MK-801-induced model of aspects of schizophrenia. Further behavioural studies would be required using a range of species, strains, animal models and testing paradigms to conclusively establish the antipsychotic potential of cannabidiol.

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