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The importance of nitric oxide in social dysfunction.

Journal article
Authors Caroline Wass
Daniel Klamer
Kim Fejgin
Erik Pålsson
Published in Behavioural brain research
Volume 200
Issue 1
Pages 113-6
ISSN 1872-7549
Publication year 2009
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 113-6
Language en
Subject categories Pharmacology and Toxicology


Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder generally considered to encompass positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive deficits. Increasing attention has been paid to the social cognitive deficits of the disorder as these dysfunctions are particularly handicapping, predictive of functional outcome and show poor treatment response. Phencyclidine (PCP) is a psychotomimetic drug used to model the different aspects of schizophrenia in experimental animal models. PCP-induced cognitive deficits and hyperlocomotion may be blocked by pretreatment with nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitors in rodents. The present study was carried out to evaluate the acute effects of PCP and NO synthase inhibition on social interaction in male Sprague-Dawley rats. The NO synthase inhibitor, L-NAME (10mg/kg) and PCP (2mg/kg) was injected subcutaneously to rats, which were then tested in pairs for social interactive behaviour. Twenty-four hours after the initial test a drug-free social interaction test was carried out to assess the rats' memory of the previous social interaction. The results showed that PCP reduced the time of social interaction on Day 1 compared to controls, and that pretreatment with the NO synthase inhibitor, L-NAME, attenuated this reduction towards control levels. Neither locomotor activity, nor frequency of social interactions were affected by the PCP treatment, suggesting that the PCP-induced effects observed were not due to drug-induced stereotypies. In combination with increasing clinical evidence for the involvement of NO in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, the present results indicate that NO synthase inhibition may be a potentially new treatment strategy for alleviating social dysfunction in schizophrenia.

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