Neurochemical Metabolomics Reveals Disruption to Sphingolipid Metabolism Following Chronic Haloperidol Administration

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 Sep;10(3):425-34. doi: 10.1007/s11481-015-9605-1. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Haloperidol is an effective antipsychotic drug for treatment of schizophrenia, but prolonged use can lead to debilitating side effects. To better understand the effects of long-term administration, we measured global metabolic changes in mouse brain following 3 mg/kg/day haloperidol for 28 days. These conditions lead to movement-related side effects in mice akin to those observed in patients after prolonged use. Brain tissue was collected following microwave tissue fixation to arrest metabolism and extracted metabolites were assessed using both liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (MS). Over 300 unique compounds were identified across MS platforms. Haloperidol was found to be present in all test samples and not in controls, indicating experimental validity. Twenty-one compounds differed significantly between test and control groups at the p < 0.05 level. Top compounds were robust to analytical method, also being identified via partial least squares discriminant analysis. Four compounds (sphinganine, N-acetylornithine, leucine and adenosine diphosphate) survived correction for multiple testing in a non-parametric analysis using false discovery rate threshold < 0.1. Pathway analysis of nominally significant compounds (p < 0.05) revealed significant findings for sphingolipid metabolism (p = 0.015) and protein biosynthesis (p = 0.024). Altered sphingolipid metabolism is suggestive of disruptions to myelin. This interpretation is supported by our observation of elevated N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate in the haloperidol-treated mice (p = 0.004), a marker previously associated with demyelination. This study further demonstrates the utility of murine neurochemical metabolomics as a method to advance understanding of CNS drug effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Haloperidol / administration & dosage
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects*
  • Metabolomics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sphingolipids / biosynthesis
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Sphingolipids
  • Haloperidol