Rationale: Several agents that stimulate the glycine site of N-methyl-D: -aspartate (NMDA) receptors have been reported to moderately improve both negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia. However, differences in efficacy have also been reported, and further comparative pharmacological studies are still needed.
Objectives: We aimed to explore the effects of two glycine site agonists of the NMDA receptor, glycine and D: -serine, and a partial agonist, D: -cycloserine, on prepulse inhibition (PPI) deficits induced by a NMDA receptor antagonist, MK-801, in mice. Furthermore, we performed in vivo microdialysis and additional PPI measurements using a selective glycine site antagonist to verify if the beneficial effects observed after the systemic administration of glycine were due to glycine itself via its activity at the glycine site.
Results: High doses of glycine (1.6 g/kg) and D: -serine (1.8 and 2.7 g/kg) significantly attenuated MK-801-induced PPI deficits. In contrast, D: -cycloserine did not show any amelioration of MK-801-induced PPI deficits at doses ranging from 7.5 mg/kg to 60 mg/kg. The selective glycine site antagonist, L-701,324 (10 mg/kg), antagonized the effect of glycine on MK-801-induced PPI deficits. Furthermore, in vivo microdialysis demonstrated that intraperitoneal injection of glycine significantly increased glycine and L: -serine levels, but decreased D: -serine levels in the prefrontal cortex.
Conclusions: The findings of the present study suggest that glycine and D: -serine but not D: -cycloserine could attenuate PPI deficits associated with NMDA receptor hypofunction via NMDA glycine sites in the brain.