Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract: We measured proenkephalin (PEK) mRNA levels in the anterior and medial aspects of the caudate-putamen (CPU) and in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of the rat by in situ hybridization histochemistry after chronic treatment for 21 days with typical (haloperidol and prolixin) and atypical (molindone, thioridazine, and clozapine) neuroleptics. Chronic administration with these drugs resulted in PEK mRNA levels that were 60–80% higher than controls in the anterior and medial aspects of the CPU but only 25–30% over controls in the NAc. All three atypical neuroleptics studied increased PEK mRNA in the following order: anterior-CPU, thioridazine 〉 clozapine and molindone; medial-CPU, thioridazine and molindone 〉 clozapine; and NAc, thioridazine 〉 〉 molindone and clozapine. Chronic treatment with the specific dopamine D2 antagonist sulpiride also caused elevation in PEK mRNA levels in all three brain regions studied whereas the specific serotonin S2 receptor blocker, cinanserin, had no significant effects on PEK mRNA levels. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that elevated levels of the enkephalins in the mesolimbic system may be necessary for antipsychotic activity. They also support the idea that the undesirable motoric signs and symptoms observed after chronic treatment with typical neuroleptics may not be the result of increased levels of enkephalins in the basal ganglia because atypical neuroleptics which are almost totally devoid of these side effects caused similar increases in PEK mRNA in the CPU.
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