NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission is implicated in the regulation of normal sociability in mice. The heterotetrameric NMDA receptor is composed of two obligatory GluN1 and either two "modulatory" GluN2A or GluN2B receptor subunits. GluN2A and GluN2B-containing receptors differ in terms of their developmental expression, distribution between synaptic and extrasynaptic locations, and channel kinetic properties, among other differences. Because age-dependent differences in disruptive effects of GluN2A and GluN2B subtype-selective antagonists on sociability and locomotor activity have been reported in rats, the current investigation explored age-dependent effects of PEAQX, a GluN2A subtype-selective antagonist, on sociability, stereotypic behaviors emerging during social interaction, and spatial working memory in 4- and 8-week old male Swiss Webster mice. The data implicate an age-dependent contribution of GluN2A-containing NMDA receptors to the regulation of normal social interaction in mice. Specifically, at a dose of PEAQX devoid of any effect on locomotor activity and mouse rotarod performance, the social interaction of 8-week old mice was disrupted without any effect on the social salience of a stimulus mouse. Moreover, PEAQX attenuated stereotypic behavior emerging during social interaction in 4- and 8-week old mice. However, PEAQX had no effect on spontaneous alternations, a measure of spatial working memory, suggesting that neural circuits mediating sociability and spatial working memory may be discrete and dissociable from each other. Also, the data suggest that the regulation of stereotypic behaviors and sociability may occur independently of each other. Because expression of GluN2A-containing NMDA receptors occurs at a later developmental stage, they may be more involved in mediating the pathogenesis of ASDs in patients with histories of "regression" after a period of normal development than GluN2B receptors.
Keywords: Cognition; GluN2A receptor subunit; NMDA receptor; Sociability; Stereotypic behavior.
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