Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) antagonists interfere with learning and memory; however, their role in motor function is not well elucidated despite their abundance in brain areas implicated in the control of movement. Here, the effects of mGluR1 antagonism on movement, coordination, and motor learning were investigated. JNJ16259685, a selective mGluR1 antagonist (negative allosteric modulator), was tested in assays of motor skill, and motor learning in rats and mice. JNJ16259685 produced very minimal effects on locomotor activity and posture up to a dose of 30 mg/kg. Motor skill was unaffected for well-learned tasks (up to 30 mg/kg) in rats, but impaired in mice. Both rats and mice rats were profoundly impaired (0.3 mg/kg) in the acquisition of a novel motor skill (rotarod). These results implicate the mGluR1 receptor in the acquisition of novel motor skills. JNJ16259685 dramatically reduced rearing behavior, exploration of a novel environment and lever pressing for a food reward (rat: 0.3 mg/kg; mouse: 1 mg/kg). JNJ16259685 (30 mg/kg) had no effect on reflexive startle responses to loud auditory stimuli or foot shock in mice. Previous groups have proposed that mGluR1 antagonists induce a general reduction in motivation. The effects seen here to reduce exploration and reward are consistent with that hypothesis. Pharmacological inhibition of the mGluR1 receptor has a modest effect on motor function but blocks motor learning and may reduce motivation to perform simple behaviors.
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