Abnormalities in amygdala and hippocampus have been shown to coexist in schizophrenia (SZ). In the hippocampus, compelling evidence suggests that a disruption of GABA neurotransmission is present mainly in sectors CA4, CA3, and CA2. The amygdala sends important inputs to the hippocampus and is also believed to have a defective GABA system in schizophrenia. To explore the possibility that changes in the hippocampal GABAergic system could be related to an increased inflow of activity originating in the amygdala, a "partial" animal model has been developed. In awake, freely moving, rats a GABA(A) receptor antagonist was infused locally into the basolateral nuclear complex of the amygdala (BLn). Within 2 hours, a decreased density of both the 65- and 67-kDa isoforms of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD(65) and GAD(67)) -immunoreactive (IR) terminals was detected on neuron somata in sectors CA3 and CA2, but not in CA1, CA3, or dentate gyrus. An increase of GAD(67)-IR somata was also found in the dentate gyrus and CA4. In anterograde tracer studies, amygdalo-hippocampal projection fibers were exclusively found in CA3 and CA2, but not CA1. Taken together, these results indicate that activation of amygdalo-hippocampal afferents is associated with the induction of significant changes in the GABA system of the hippocampus, with a subregional distribution that is remarkably similar to that found in SZ. Under pathologic conditions, an excessive discharge of excitatory activity emanating from the amygdala could be capable of altering inhibitory modulation along the trisynaptic pathway. This mechanism may potentially contribute to disturbances of GABAergic function in the major psychoses. Such "partial" rodent modelling provides an important strategy for deciphering the effect of altered cortico-limbic circuits in SZ.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.