Acute administration of phencyclidine induces tonic activation of medial prefrontal cortex neurons in freely moving rats

Neuroscience. 2002;114(3):769-79. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00298-1.


Recent studies have reported that acute administration of the psychotomimetic drug phencyclidine results in considerable increases in the amounts of both extracellular glutamate and dopamine in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However, the effect of phencyclidine on the firing activity of mPFC neurons remains unknown. Here, we report the first data on phencyclidine-induced activation of mPFC neurons in freely moving rats. Unanesthetized rats received an intraperitoneal injection of either phencyclidine (5 mg/kg) or physiological saline (0.5 ml/kg) in order to investigate the impulse activity of mPFC neurons and behavioral activity. The phencyclidine injection induced a remarkable increase (two-fold or more) in the spontaneous discharge rate of the majority of mPFC neurons (20/23), and this increase lasted for more than 70 min. In addition, a considerable augmentation of behavioral activity was observed that nearly paralleled that of the mPFC neuronal activation. In contrast, microiontophoretically applied phencyclidine exerted little influence on the spontaneous firing activity of most mPFC neurons (25/29) in anesthetized rats, although systemically applied phencyclidine produced activation of mPFC neurons even under general anesthesia. These results suggest that the behavioral abnormalities induced by acute administration of phencyclidine may be caused by hyperactivation of mPFC neurons, and that this hyperactivation is elicited through excitatory inputs from brain regions outside the mPFC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects*
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Phencyclidine / administration & dosage*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Phencyclidine