The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology

Cysteamine treatment ameliorates alterations in GAD67 expression and spatial memory in heterozygous reeler mice.

PMID 21777509


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signalling through its receptor, TrkB is known to regulate GABAergic function and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 67 expression in neurons. Alterations in BDNF signalling have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and as a result, they are a potential therapeutic target. Interestingly, heterozygous reeler mice (HRM) have decreased GAD67 expression in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and they exhibit many behavioural and neurochemical abnormalities similar to schizophrenia. In this study, we evaluated the potential of cysteamine, a neuroprotective compound to improve the deficits in GAD67 expression and cognitive function in HRM. We found that cysteamine administration (150 mg/kg.d, through drinking water) for 30 d significantly ameliorated the decreases in GAD67, mature BDNF and full-length TrkB protein levels found in frontal cortex and hippocampus of HRM. A significant attenuation of the increased levels of truncated BDNF in frontal cortex and hippocampus, as well as truncated TrkB in frontal cortex of HRM was also observed following cysteamine treatment. In behavioural studies, HRM were impaired in a Y-maze spatial recognition memory task, but not in a spontaneous alternation task or a sensorimotor, prepulse inhibition (PPI) procedure. Cysteamine improved Y-maze spatial recognition in HRM to the level of wide-type controls and it improved PPI in both wild-type and HRM. Finally, mice deficient in TrkB, showed a reduced response to cysteamine in GAD67 expression suggesting that TrkB signalling plays an important role in GAD67 regulation by cysteamine.