, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 769-780

Effects of NMDA-Receptor Antagonist Treatment on c-fos Expression in Rat Brain Areas Implicated in Schizophrenia


1. The noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists produce behavioral responses that closely resemble both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These drugs also induce excitatory and neurotoxic effects in limbic cortical areas.

2. We have here mapped the brain areas which show increased activity in response to noncompetitive NMDA-receptor antagonist administration concentrating especially to those brain areas that have been suggested to be relevant in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

3. Rats were treated intraperitoneally with a NMDA-receptor antagonist MK801 and activation of brain areas was detected by monitoring the expression of c-fos mRNA by using in situ hybridization.

4. MK801 induced c-fos mRNA expression of in the retrosplenial, entorhinal, and prefrontal cortices. Lower c-fos expression was observed in the layer IV of the parietal and frontal cortex. In the thalamus, c-fos mRNA expression was detected in the midline nuclei and in the reticular nucleus but not in the dorsomedial nucleus. In addition, c-fos mRNA was expressed in the anterior olfactory nucleus, the ventral tegmental area, and in cerebellar granule neurons.

5. NMDA-receptor antagonist ketamine increased dopamine release in the parietal cortex, in the region where NMDA-receptor antagonist increased c-fos mRNA expression.

6. Thus, the psychotropic NMDA-receptor antagonist induced c-fos mRNA expression in most, but not all, brain areas implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. The high spatial resolution of in situ hybridization may help to define regions of interest for human imaging studies.