Rationale: Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) are G protein-coupled receptors, widely expressed in the CNS. Electrophysiological and molecular studies have provided evidence for overactive M1 receptor signaling in the fragile X knockout (Fmr1 KO) mouse model, suggesting the involvement of the M1 receptors in fragile X syndrome. Overactive signaling through the M1 receptor has been hypothesized to contribute to the phenotypes seen in fragile X mice.
Objective: We investigated the modulation of behavioral responses in the Fmr1 KO animals by reducing the activity through the muscarinic M1 receptor using the pharmacological agent dicyclomine, an M1 antagonist.
Methods: The behavioral assays used to investigate the pharmacological effects include marble burying (perseverative behavior), open-field exploration (activity), passive avoidance (learning and memory), prepulse inhibition (sensorimotor gating), and audiogenic seizures.
Results: Data from the marble-burying assay suggests that treatment with dicyclomine results in a decrease in the number of marbles buried in the wild-type and in the KO animals. To examine the possibility of drug-induced sedation, overall activity was measured in an open-field chamber. Dicyclomine only increases activity at a dose of 20 mg/kg in the wild-type mice but did not affect exploration in the KO animals. Lastly, we observed that dicyclomine causes a significant decrease in the percentage of audiogenic seizures in the Fmr1 KO animals.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that pharmacologically reducing the activity through the mAChR M1 alters select behavioral responses in the Fmr1 KO mice.