Role of prefrontal cortical 5-HT2A receptors and serotonin transporter in the behavioral deficits in post-pubertal rats following neonatal lesion of the ventral hippocampus

Behav Brain Res. 2020 Jan 13;377:112226. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112226. Epub 2019 Sep 12.


Neonatal ventral hippocampal-lesioned (NVHL) rats have been shown to display neurochemical and behavioral abnormalities at adulthood, analogous to some of those seen in schizophrenia. Serotonergic neurotransmission is implicated the pathophysiology and treatment of schizophrenia. In this study, we evaluated possible role of serotonergic transmission is the behaviors of NVHL-lesioned rats. Bilateral lesions to the ventral hippocampus (VH) in rat pups were made using the excitotoxin ibotenic acid. We investigated 5-HT2A-receptor and SERT binding sites in cortical and subcortical areas in post-pubertal NVHL and sham-lesioned rats, using quantitative receptor autoradiography. We compared a 5-HT-dependent behavior in NVHL and sham animals, the wet-dog shake response (WDSr) to a 5-HT2A receptor agonist DOI. In addition, we studied prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle responses in NVHL and Sham-lesioned animals treated with antipsychotic drugs haloperidol, risperidone and clozapine and 5-HT2A antagonists ketanserin or MDL100907. The WDSr elicited by DOI was enhanced in post-pubertal NVHL rats compared to sham-lesioned controls. Moreover, post-pubertal NVHL rats exhibited PPI deficits which was reversed by atypical antipsychotics, ketanserin and MDL100907. A significant increase in 5-HT2A-like receptor binding was observed in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in post-pubertal NVHL rats without any significant change in the striatum and ventral pallidum. A significant increase in SERT-like binding was also observed in the mPFC and striatum of NVHL rats at pre-pubertal period; however, at post-pubertal age, the binding remained elevated in mPFC only. These data suggest that increased prefrontal cortical 5-HT transmission may play a role in the behavioral deficits observed in this neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia.

Keywords: 5-HT(2A) receptor; Prefrontal cortex; Prepulse inhibition; Receptor autoradiography; Schizophrenia; Serotonin transporter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Autoradiography
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Prepulse Inhibition / drug effects
  • Prepulse Inhibition / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A / drug effects
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A / metabolism*
  • Reflex, Startle / drug effects
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia* / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia* / physiopathology
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / drug effects
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Slc6a4 protein, rat