Fear extinction disruption in a developmental rodent model of schizophrenia correlates with an impairment in basolateral amygdala-medial prefrontal cortex plasticity

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Nov;43(12):2459-2467. doi: 10.1038/s41386-018-0128-3. Epub 2018 Jun 23.


Schizophrenia patients typically exhibit prominent negative symptoms associated with deficits in extinction recall and decreased ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity (vmPFC, analogous to medial PFC infralimbic segment in rodents). mPFC activity modulates the activity of basolateral amygdala (BLA) and this connectivity is related to extinction. mPFC and BLA activity has been shown to be altered in the methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) developmental disruption model of schizophrenia. However, it is unknown if there are alterations in extinction processes in this model. Therefore, we investigated extinction and the role of mPFC-BLA balance in MAM rats. Male offspring of pregnant rats treated with Saline or MAM (20 mg/kg; i.p.) on gestational day 17 were used in fear conditioning (contextual/tone) and electrophysiological experiments (mPFC-BLA plasticity). No difference was observed in conditioning, extinction, and test sessions in contextual fear conditioning. However, MAM-treated rats demonstrated impairment in extinction learning and recall in tone fear conditioning. Furthermore, high frequency stimulation (HFS) of the BLA decreased spike probability in the mPFC of saline-treated rats but not in MAM rats. NMDA antagonist microinjected into the BLA disrupted extinction learning and recall in control rats, resulting in a similar deficit as that observed in MAM-treated rats. These data demonstrate extinction impairment in the MAM model that is analogous to that observed in schizophrenia patients, that was probably due to disruption in the regulation of mPFC activity by glutamatergic neurotransmission in the BLA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists