, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 45–49 | Cite as

Haloperidol-induced emotional defecation: a possible model for neuroleptic anxiety syndrome

  • Kristanne H. Russell
  • Starr H. Hagenmeyer-Houser
  • Paul R. Sanberg
Original Investigations


The neuroleptic haloperidol was found to produce increased defecation in laboratory rats when tested in well habituated environments. It is well known that haloperidol induces catalepsy through antagonism of striatal dopaminergic receptor mechanisms. When another cataleptic agent, morphine, was tested, no significant increases in defectation were detected. Another study focused on the possible role of peripheral dopamine receptor sites within the gastrointestinal tract on neuroleptic-induced defecation. When the peripheral dopamine receptor antagonist domperidone was tested, no significant differences in fecal elimination were recorded. Thus, it appeared that the cataleptic state per se, or the peripheral effects of haloperidol did not seem to be responsible for the increased defecation. Defection is often used as an index of emotionality. The fact that this measure increased following administration of a major tranquilizer suggested the need to study more directly the relationship of this phenomenon of defecation with the affective state of the animal. In a control study it was found that the antianxiety agent benzodiazepam did not by itself influence defecation. However, those animals which were pre-injected with diazepam followed by haloperidol did not show increased defecation. Thus under certain circumstances, normal rats given haloperidol show “emotional defecation” which seems to reflect increased anxiety. This finding may serve as a basis for the development of an animal model for some of the atypical side effects of major tranquilizers, such as akathisia, dysphoria, and neuroleptic anxiety syndrome.

Key words

Defecation Emotionality Anxiety Neuroleptics Haloperidol Domperidone Morphine Benzodiazepam 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristanne H. Russell
    • 1
  • Starr H. Hagenmeyer-Houser
    • 1
  • Paul R. Sanberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and PhysiologyUniversity of Cincinnati Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA

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