Positive allosteric modulation of GABAB receptors ameliorates sensorimotor gating in rodent models

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2014 Jul;20(7):679-84. doi: 10.1111/cns.12261. Epub 2014 Apr 7.


Background: Converging evidence points to the involvement of γ-amino-butyric acid B receptors (GABABRs) in the regulation of information processing. We previously showed that GABABR agonists exhibit antipsychotic-like properties in rodent models of sensorimotor gating deficits, as measured by the prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle reflex. The therapeutic potential of these agents, however, is limited by their neuromuscular side effects; thus, in this study, we analyzed whether rac-BHFF, a potent GABABR-positive allosteric modulator (PAM), could counter spontaneous and pharmacologically induced PPI deficits across various rodent models.

Methods: We tested the antipsychotic effects of rac-BHFF on the PPI deficits caused by the N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor antagonist dizocilpine, in Sprague-Dawley rats and C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, we verified whether rac-BHFF ameliorated the spontaneous PPI impairments in DBA/2J mice.

Results: rac-BHFF dose-dependently countered the PPI deficits across all three models, in a fashion akin to the GABABR agonist baclofen and the atypical antipsychotic clozapine; in contrast with these compounds, however, rac-BHFF did not affect startle magnitude.

Conclusions: The present data further support the implication of GABABRs in the modulation of sensorimotor gating and point to their PAMs as a novel promising tool for antipsychotic treatment, with fewer side effects than GABABR agonists.

Keywords: DBA/2J mice; GABAB receptors; NMDA receptors; Prepulse inhibition of the startle; Schizophrenia; Sensorimotor gating.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation / drug effects
  • Allosteric Regulation / physiology
  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Models, Animal*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-B / physiology*
  • Sensory Gating / drug effects
  • Sensory Gating / physiology*


  • (R,S)-5,7-di-tert-butyl-3-hydroxy-3-trifluoromethyl-3H-benzofuran-2-one
  • Benzofurans
  • Receptors, GABA-B