Activation of the mGlu 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor has antipsychotic-like effects and is required for efficacy of M 4 muscarinic receptor allosteric modulators

Mol Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 16;10.1038/s41380-018-0206-2. doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0206-2. Online ahead of print.


Recent clinical and preclinical studies suggest that selective activators of the M4 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor have potential as a novel treatment for schizophrenia. M4 activation inhibits striatal dopamine release by mobilizing endocannabinoids, providing a mechanism for local effects on dopamine signaling in the striatum but not in extrastriatal areas. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) typically induce endocannabinoid release through activation of Gαq/11-type G proteins whereas M4 transduction occurs through Gαi/o-type G proteins. We now report that the ability of M4 to inhibit dopamine release and induce antipsychotic-like effects in animal models is dependent on co-activation of the Gαq/11-coupled mGlu1 subtype of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor. This is especially interesting in light of recent findings that multiple loss of function single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human gene encoding mGlu1 (GRM1) are associated with schizophrenia, and points to GRM1/mGlu1 as a gene within the "druggable genome" that could be targeted for the treatment of schizophrenia. Herein, we report that potentiation of mGlu1 signaling following thalamo-striatal stimulation is sufficient to inhibit striatal dopamine release, and that a novel mGlu1 positive allosteric modulator (PAM) exerts robust antipsychotic-like effects through an endocannabinoid-dependent mechanism. However, unlike M4, mGlu1 does not directly inhibit dopamine D1 receptor signaling and does not reduce motivational responding. Taken together, these findings highlight a novel mechanism of cross talk between mGlu1 and M4 and demonstrate that highly selective mGlu1 PAMs may provide a novel strategy for the treatment of positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia.