4 Scopus citations


Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a late-onset side effect mainly affecting the orofacial region of patients treated chronically with classic antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol (HAL). The causes of TD remain unknown. We hypothesized that faulty synaptic re-organization might be related to TD-like syndromes and used the vacuous chewing movements (VCM) model in rats to investigate the expression of four synaptic proteins, synaptophysin, syntaxin, spinophilin and PSD-95, in brains of HAL-treated rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated for 14 weeks with either haloperidol decanoate (21 mg/kg once every 3 weeks, I.M) or vehicle and VCMs were monitored on a weekly basis. As expected, VCMs developed reliably and were consistently more pronounced in some rats than in others. Using immunohistochemistry in anatomically preserved brain sections as well as Western Blot analyses of whole cells or synaptosomal fractions in striatal tissue, we found no significant effect of chronic HAL on levels of these proteins. Neither did we find significant differences in the levels of the four synaptic markers when comparing rats showing High vs. Low levels of VCMs. These results suggest that structural synaptic alterations (e.g. involving increased number of synapses) may not be the underlying mechanism of oral dyskinesias induced by chronic antipsychotic drug treatment. The possibility that functional neuroplastic changes occur remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Haloperidol
  • Oral dyskinesias
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Tardive dyskinesia
  • Vacuous chewing movements


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