Several lines of evidence indicate that alterations in the structure of neural circuits and inhibitory neurotransmission underlie the physiopathogenesis of schizophrenia. Most of the studies on these parameters have been focused on cortical regions and, despite the crucial role of the amygdala in this psychiatric disorder, there is less information on this region. In order to expand this knowledge, we have studied the expression of molecules related to inhibitory neurotransmission and structural plasticity in rats subjected to post-weaning isolation rearing, an animal model that reproduces several core symptoms of schizophrenia. We have analyzed, using qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, the expression of synaptophysin, GAD65, GAD67, the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), its polysialylated form (PSA-NCAM) and its synthesizing enzymes (St8siaII and St8SiaIV). Isolation-reared rats showed significant increases in the expression of GAD67 protein in the centromedial, medial and basolateral amygdaloid nuclei, but no significant changes in GAD65 or synaptophysin expression were found in these regions. The expression of PSA-NCAM and NCAM was significantly increased in the basolateral and medial nuclei respectively. Our results indicate that isolation-rearing influences positively inhibitory neurotransmission and neuronal structural plasticity in the amygdala, probably through PSA-NCAM. These findings are in contrast to reports describing decreased expression of molecules related to inhibitory neurotransmission in the amygdala of schizophrenic patients. Consequently, although the social isolation rearing model can reproduce some of the behavioral traits of schizophrenics it may fail to reproduce some of the neurobiological features of this disorder, particularly in the amygdala.
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