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Title: Validation of an animal model of cognitive dysfunction associated with schizophrenia : development and validation of the novel object recognition task using behavioural manipulations and psychotomimetic dosing regimens to induce cognitive deficits of relevance to schizophrenia in hooded-Lister rats
Author: Grayson, Ben
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 2983
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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Phencyclidine (PCP) is a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist that has been shown to induce schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms that are clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia in patients. When administered to rodents, PCP produces an array of behaviours that are characteristic of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is associated with continual and treatment resistant cognitive deficits which are now recognised as a core feature of the disease. The aim of the studies reported in chapter 3 were to establish a set of objects with equal preference in the NOR (novel object recognition) test. Furthermore, the inter-trial-interval (ITI) of the NOR test was investigated in an attempt to elucidate the effects of time and location of the rats during the ITI on the cognitive impairments following sub-chronic PCP treatment. The experiments in chapter 4 were designed to compare the performance of male and female rats in the NOR test following treatment with acute d-amphetamine (d-amph), PCP and sub-chronic PCP treatment. In chapter 5, validation of the cognitive deficits induced by sub-chronic PCP treatment was assessed using carefully selected pharmacological agents. The aim of the studies in chapter 6 was to determine the effects of isolation rearing on cognitive performance in the NOR test following increasing ITIs. Additionally, the sensitivity of isolation reared rats compared to social controls following acute administration of PCP and d-amph was assessed using the NOR test. Studies in chapter 8 utilised the 16-holeboard maze to determine the effects of acute treatment with d-amphetamine, PCP and scopolamine on working memory in the rat. NOR is a visual learning and memory test that measures recognition memory which is impaired in patients with schizophrenia. Studies presented in this thesis demonstrate the importance of careful pilot studies when selecting objects for use in the NOR test. Initial studies in sub-chronic PCP (2 mg/kg for 7 days followed by 7 days drug free) treated female hooded-Lister rats revealed a preference of the rats for the wooden cone object; subsequently this object was eliminated from further NOR experiments. Sub-chronic PCP treated rats were found to be highly susceptible to the disruptive influence of distraction during the short 1 min inter-trial-interval (ITI) in the NOR test. These results are consistent with clinical findings of the effects of distraction on cognition in schizophrenia patients. Following the initial validation experiments, a 1 min ITI in the home cage was selected for all subsequent NOR studies. Further experiments provided evidence to confirm that information presented in the acquisition trial is encoded but not retained in the retention trial of the NOR test by IV PCP-treated rats. Male rats were less sensitive to the recognition memory deficits induced by acute treatment with PCP and d-amphetamine compared with females. Following sub-chronic PCP treatment, both males and females showed object recognition deficits, however, the impairments were more robust in female rats. Female rats were therefore selected for all subsequent experiments. Pharmacological validation was carried out using carefully selected agents which were assessed for their ability to restore the sub-chronic PCP induced cognitive deficit in the object recognition test. It was found that the classical antipsychotic agents haloperidol and fluphenazine, the benzodiazepine anxiolytic chlordiazepoxide and the SSRI antidepressant fluoxetine were ineffective. Further studies showed that the atypical antipsychotic agents, clozapine and risperidone, the analeptic agent modafinil, the nAChR full agonist nicotine, and full agonist and positive allosteric modulator of the α7 nAChR (PNU-282987 and PNU120596 respectively) reversed the recognition memory deficit induced by sub-chronic PCP treatment in the NOR test. Isolation rearing of rats at weaning is an environmental stressor that has relevance for modelling the symptomatology and pathology of schizophrenia. Isolates had a significantly increased locomotor activity (LMA) response to a novel environment and enhanced sensitivity to time delay-induced recognition memory deficits, compared with their socially reared counterparts. Isolates were less sensitive to an acute PCP-induced recognition memory deficit but more sensitive to an acute d-amphetamine induced recognition memory deficit in the NOR test compared to social controls. Preliminary results from the 16-holeboard maze experiments reveal that acute administration of the mAChR antagonist scopolamine, d-amphetamine, PCP and sub-chronic PCP treatment reduced working memory scores compared to vehicle treated controls. Taken together, these findings suggest that sub-chronic treatment with PCP induces cognitive deficits in behavioural tests of relevance to cognition associated with schizophrenia. This may allow the detection of novel pharmacotherapies to alleviate these cognitive deficits and exploration of the nature of cognitive disturbances in these patients.
Supervisor: Neill, Joanna C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rat ; Phencyclidine ; Antipsychotics ; Cognition ; 16-holeboard maze ; NOR (Novel object recognition) test