Neurochemical, behavioral and architectural changes after chronic inactivation of NMDA receptors in mice

Neurosci Lett. 2010 Jan 4;468(2):166-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.10.091. Epub 2009 Nov 4.


Schizophrenia is a psychotic illness characterized by problems in perception, learning, and memory. Post-mortem clinical data revealed abnormalities in neuronal organization, reduced soma and dendritic tree size. In rodents, reduction of glutamatergic neurotransmission by NMDA receptor antagonists mimics symptoms of schizophrenia. However, the dosage, treatment and species used in previous studies have not been consistent, leading to a lack of correlation between the findings reported in low-dose, long-term treatment models and the results in acute or chronic high dose administration. Thus, the present study investigates whether long-term, low-dose blockade of NMDA receptors with MK-801 in the early postnatal period results in molecular, cellular, morphological and behavioral changes in the mouse, alterations that have been singly described by using different drugs and dosages in either mice or rats. We found that early postnatal administration of 0.1mg/kg MK-801 for 15 days altered protein translation, synapse formation, hippocampus-dependent learning and neuronal development, resembling findings reported in schizophrenia. These results suggest that there are strong parallels between this animal model and schizophrenia, which validates it as an animal model for this condition and lends further strength of the NMDA receptor hypofunction as a useful model for the study of psychosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dizocilpine Maleate*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Schizophrenia / chemically induced
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Time Factors


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Dizocilpine Maleate