, Volume 111, Issue 6, pp 667-681
Date: 02 Apr 2004

Neurotoxic potential of haloperidol in comparison with risperidone: implication of Akt-mediated signal changes by haloperidol

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The neurotoxicity of conventional antipsychotic drugs has emerged as a potential pathogenic event in extrapyramidal side effects (EPS) and in their limited efficacy for negative-cognitive symptoms in schizophrenic patients. The atypical antipsychotics, recently developed, have superior therapeutic efficacy to treat not only positive symptoms but negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunctions with much lower potentials of side effects, although the influence of atypical antipsychotics on the regulation of neuronal survival has been less investigated. It is important to clarify the effects of typical and atypical antipsychotics on neuronal survival and their contributions to the therapeutic development and understanding of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. We measured the neurotoxicity of two antipsychotic drug treatments, haloperidol and risperidone, in primary cultured rat cortical neurons. Immunoblotting and pharmacological agent analyses were used to determine the signal transduction changes implicated in the mechanisms of the neurotoxicity. Haloperidol induced apoptotic injury in cultured cortical neurons, but risperidone showed weak potential to injure the neurons. Treatment with haloperidol also led the reduction of phosphorylation levels of Akt, and activated caspase-3. The D2 agonist bromocriptine and 5-HT2A antagonist, ketanserin attenuated the haloperidol-induced neuronal toxicity. Moreover, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) reduced the caspase-3 activity and protected neurons from haloperidol-induced apoptosis. BDNF also reversed the reduced levels of phosphorylation of Akt caused by treatment with haloperidol. Haloperidol but not risperidone induces caspase-dependent apoptosis by reducing cellular survival signaling, which possibly contributes to the differential clinical therapeutic efficacy and expression of side effects in schizophrenia.