Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior

Effects of donepezil, nicotine and haloperidol on the central serotonergic system in mice: implications for Tourette's syndrome.

PMID 16045972


We have previously reported that acute and chronic donepezil and nicotine administration significantly attenuate DOI-induced head twitch response (HTR) in mice. This behavior, primarily mediated by stimulation of 5-HT2A receptors, has been proposed to model tic symptoms seen in Tourette's syndrome (TS). Haloperidol, a drug widely used to treat symptoms of TS, has also been reported to reduce DOI-induced head shakes in rodents when administered acutely. These findings suggest an inhibitory interaction of these drugs with 5-HT2A receptors. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the effects of chronic donepezil, nicotine and haloperidol on expression levels of 5-HT2A mRNA and 5-HT2A receptor density in select brain regions. Initially, we established a dose-response relationship for the acute and chronic haloperidol and DOI-induced HTR. Male ICR mice were treated twice daily with donepezil (0.1 mg/kg), nicotine (0.5 mg/kg), and once daily with haloperidol (0.4 mg/kg) for 14 days and were sacrificed 16-18 h after the last injection. These drug regimens were chosen because of their significant effects on DOI-induced HTR. Donepezil significantly increased 5-HT2A mRNA level, but not the receptor density in the striatum. In the midbrain, donepezil significantly decreased the receptor density without affecting the 5-HT2A mRNA level. In the frontal cortex, only haloperidol significantly reduced the 5-HT2A receptor density. The cortex was the only area where donepezil, nicotine and haloperidol significantly reduced the 5-HT2A receptor density. The results suggest that the anti-tic properties of donepezil, nicotine and haloperidol in this paradigm might be due to antagonism of cortical 5-HT2A receptors. Thus, further investigation of involvement of cortical 5-HT2A receptors in TS as well as evaluation of selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonists in this disorder is warranted.