, Volume 124, Issue 1–2, pp 95–106 | Cite as

5-HT modulation of auditory and visual sensorimotor gating: I. Effects of 5-HT releasers on sound and light prepulse inhibition in Wistar rats

  • J. H. Kehne
  • R. A. Padich
  • T. C. McCloskey
  • V. L. Taylor
  • C. J. Schmidt
Original Investigation


Increasing evidence suggests an important role for serotonin (5-HT) neurons in the etiology and treatment of schizophrenia. The prepulse inhibition paradigm is used as a model for sensorimotor gating processes that are disrupted in schizophrenia. The present study assessed the general role of 5-HT in modulating auditory and visual prepulse inhibition in Wistar rats. A general overactivation of central serotonerigic pathways was produced pharmacologically by four different agents which all shared the common property of releasing 5-HT, i.e.,p-chloroamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine,N-ethyl-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or fenfluramine. Within each test session, both sound and light prepulses were used to obtain a cross-modal assessment of auditory and visual sensory gating processes. All four 5-HT releasing agents produced dose-related disruptions of auditory and visual prepulse inhibition, withp-chloroamphetamine being the most potent. The releasers depressed baseline to varying degrees. The α2-adrenergic agonist clonidine decreased baseline startle without substantially disrupting prepulse inhibition, demonstrating that the two effects were dissociable. Using fenfluramine as the most selective 5-HT releaser, two approaches were used to demonstrate 5-HT mediation of its disruptive effect on prepulse inhibition. In the first approach, the selective 5-HT uptake blocker MDL 28,618A was used to prevent fenfluramine-induced 5-HT release. In the second approach, prior exposure to a neurotoxic dose ofp-chloroamphetamine (10 mg/kg) was used to produce a substantial, sustained depletion of cortical 5-HT, presumably reflecting the loss of 5-HT terminals. Both approaches reduced the disruptive effect of fenfluramine on auditory and visual prepulse inhibition, thereby demonstrating 5-HT mediation of these effects. Neither manipulation significantly affected the depressant effect of fenfluramine on startle baseline, demonstrating that the baseline-reducing and prepulse inhibition-reducing effects of fenfluramine could be dissociated. MDL 28,618A alone did not affect prepulse inhibition or basal startle levels, demonstrating an important functional difference between pharmacologically induced 5-HT uptake blockade and 5-HT release. In summary, these data indicate that serotonergic overactivation can disrupt auditory and visual sensorimotor gating as measured using sound and light prepulse inhibition in rats. These data support a potential role of excessive 5-HT activity as a contributing factor to disrupted sensory gating processes seen in schizophrenia and possibly other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Key words

Prepulse inhibition Sensorimotor gating Schizophrenia Wistar rats Serotonin p-Chloroamphetamine, PCA 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA N-Ethyl-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDEA Fenfluramine Clonidine 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Kehne
    • 1
  • R. A. Padich
    • 1
  • T. C. McCloskey
    • 1
  • V. L. Taylor
    • 1
  • C. J. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc.CincinnatiUSA

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