Discordant behavioral effects of psychotomimetic drugs in mice with altered NMDA receptor function

Michael A. Benneyworth, Alo C. Basu, Joseph T. Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Rationale: Enhancement of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activity through its glycine modulatory site (GMS) is a novel therapeutic approach in schizophrenia. Brain concentrations of endogenous GMS agonist d-serine and antagonist N-acetyl-aspartylglutamate are regulated by serine racemase (SR) and glutamic acid decarboxylase 2 (GCP2), respectively. Using mice genetically, under-expressing these enzymes may clarify the role of NMDAR-mediated neurotransmission in schizophrenia. Objectives: We investigated the behavioral effects of two psychotomimetic drugs, the noncompetitive NMDAR antagonist, phencyclidine (PCP; 0, 1.0, 3.0, or 6.0 mg/kg), and the indirect dopamine receptor agonist, amphetamine (AMPH; 0, 1.0, 2.0, or 4.0 mg/kg), in SR -/- and GCP2 -/+ mice. Outcome measures were locomotor activity and prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle reflex. Acute effects of an exogenous GMS antagonist, gavestinel (0, 3.0, or 10.0 mg/kg), on PCP-induced behaviors were examined in wild-type mice for comparison to the mutants with reduced GMS activity. Results: PCP-induced hyperactivity was increased in GCP2 -/+ mice, and PCP-enhanced startle reactivity was increased in SR -/- mice. PCP disruption of PPI was unaffected in either mutant. In contrast, gavestinel attenuated PCP-induced PPI disruption without effect on baseline PPI or locomotor activity. AMPH effects were similar to controls in both mutant strains. Conclusions: The results of the PCP experiments demonstrate that convergence of pharmacological and genetic manipulations at NMDARs may confound the predictive validity of these preclinical assays for the effects of GMS activation in schizophrenia. The AMPH data provide additional evidence that hyperdopaminergia in schizophrenia may be distinct from NMDAR hypofunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by NIH Grants MH05129 (JTC) and P50 MH060450 (JTC) and the Andrew P. Merrill Memorial Research Fellowship (MAB). JTC holds a patent on the use of D-serine to treat serious mental illness that is owned by the Massachusetts General Hospital but could yield royalties. We thank Jonathan Picker and William Carlezon for the use of behavioral testing equipment. We thank Jiamin Feng for genotyping and maintaining our animal colony.


  • Amphetamine
  • Gavestinel
  • Glutamate
  • Glutamate carboxypeptidase 2
  • Glycine modulatory site
  • NMDA receptor
  • Phencyclidine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serine racemase


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