Acute D2/D3 Dopaminergic Agonism but Chronic D2/D3 Antagonism Prevents NMDA Antagonist Neurotoxicity

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Background: Antagonists of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor, most likely by producing disinhibtion in complex circuits, acutely produce psychosis and cognitive disturbances in humans, and neurotoxicity in rodents. Studies examining NMDA Receptor Hypofunction (NRHypo) neurotoxicity in animals, therefore, may provide insights into the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders. Dopaminergic D2 and/or D3 agents can modify psychosis over days to weeks, suggesting involvement of these transmitter system(s). Methods: We studied the ability of D2/D3 agonists and antagonists to modify NRHypo neurotoxicity both after a one-time acute exposure and after chronic daily exposure. Results: Here we report that D2/D3 dopamine agonists, probably via D3 receptors, prevent NRHypo neurotoxicity when given acutely. The protective effect with D2/D3 agonists is not seen after chronic daily dosing. In contrast, the antipsychotic haloperidol does not affect NRHypo neurotoxicity when given acutely at D2/D3 doses. However, after chronic daily dosing of 1, 3, or 5 weeks, haloperidol does prevent NRHypo neurotoxicity with longer durations producing greater protection. Conclusions: Understanding the changes that occur in the NRHypo circuit after chronic exposure to dopaminergic agents could provide important clues into the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2006


  • Antipsychotics
  • D/D dopaminergic agents
  • NMDA antagonists
  • disinhibition
  • neurotoxicity
  • psychosis


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