Background and purpose: Gamma oscillations are fast rhythmic fluctuations of neuronal network activity ranging from 30 to 90 Hz that establish a precise temporal background for cognitive processes such as perception, sensory processing, learning, and memory. Alterations of gamma oscillations have been observed in schizophrenia and are suggested to play crucial roles in the generation of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of the disease.
Experimental approach: In this study, we investigated the effects of the novel antipsychotic cariprazine, a D3 -preferring dopamine D3 /D2 receptor partial agonist, on cholinergically induced gamma oscillations in rat hippocampal slices from treatment-naïve and MK-801-treated rats, a model of acute first-episode schizophrenia.
Key results: The D3 receptor-preferring agonist pramipexole effectively decreased the power of gamma oscillations, while the D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011 had no effect. In treatment-naïve animals, cariprazine did not modulate strong gamma oscillations but slightly improved the periodicity of non-saturated gamma activity. Cariprazine showed a clear partial agonistic profile at D3 receptors at the network level by potentiating the inhibitory effects when the D3 receptor tone was low and antagonizing the effects when the tone was high. In hippocampal slices of MK-801-treated rats, cariprazine allowed stabilization of the aberrant increase in gamma oscillation power and potentiated resynchronization of the oscillations.
Conclusion and implications: Data from this study indicate that cariprazine stabilizes pathological hippocampal gamma oscillations, presumably by its partial agonistic profile. The results demonstrate in vitro gamma oscillations as predictive biomarkers to study the effects of antipsychotics preclinically at the network level.