Despite strong progress in unveiling the elements that confer genetic predisposition for schizophrenia and a wealth of brain imaging data that has allowed identifying critical brain regions that are affected in this disorder, we are still far from a clear view on its pathophysiological mechanisms. The prefrontal cortex, the temporal lobe, amygdala and basal ganglia are known to be involved. Also, several transmitter systems, including dopamine, glutamate and GABA, have been implicated. Indeed, animal models have relied on a number of developmental manipulations, including a lesion in the hippocampus. An important question that remains to be solved is why (and how) early developmental/genetic factors can yield a condition in which symptoms emerge late in adolescence or in early adulthood. We plan to follow recent studies indicating that the actions of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, in particular on interneurons, mature during adolescence. We will explore the cellular and synaptic mechanisms that may be responsible for this delayed maturation in naove animals, and we will extend those studies to a developmental animal model of schizophrenia. Rats with a neonatal lesion of the ventral hippocampus exhibit abnormal behaviors and cognitive deficits that resemble phenomena observed in schizophrenia. We have also shown that the electrophysiological response to dopamine activation is abnormal in those animals. Despite having the lesion at early ages, all these changes emerge during adolescence;thus, this model is well suited to study delayed emergence of physiological anomalies. We will assess the maturation of prefrontal cortical interneurons in the period between the lesion and the onset of symptoms, and the mechanisms involved in the abnormal responses to dopamine that emerge during adolescence. We will also test whether a pharmacological model (blocking NMDA receptors) exerts its actions by selectively targeting interneurons. The experiments proposed here may open new avenues to think about schizophrenia pathophysiology and brain maturation. New ideas for therapeutic approaches, for example, may emerge from these studies.

Public Health Relevance

This project is aimed at determining whether alterations in prefrontal cortical interneurons are a common element in different animal models of schizophrenia. As interneurons have been repeatedly suggested to be abnormal in post-mortem studies, identifying a) whether they are abnormal in animal models, and b) the nature of those anomalies, has a great potential to provide information that could shape new views on pathophysiological mechanisms in this devastating disorder. The periadolescent maturation of the dopamine modulation of this cell population we reported recently is likely to be affected in these models;if the overall hypothesis in this application is correct, studying this late maturation could provide unique opportunities to design novel therapeutic approaches that target GABA and glutamate transmission in the prefrontal cortex.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDCN-A (90))
Program Officer
Panchision, David M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Maryland Baltimore
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Nomura, J; Jaaro-Peled, H; Lewis, E et al. (2016) Role for neonatal D-serine signaling: prevention of physiological and behavioral deficits in adult Pick1 knockout mice. Mol Psychiatry 21:386-93
Steullet, P; Cabungcal, J H; Monin, A et al. (2016) Redox dysregulation, neuroinflammation, and NMDA receptor hypofunction: A ""central hub"" in schizophrenia pathophysiology? Schizophr Res 176:41-51
Brooks, Julie M; O'Donnell, Patricio; Frost, Douglas O (2016) Olanzapine Treatment of Adolescent Rats Alters Adult D2 Modulation of Cortical Inputs to the Ventral Striatum. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol :
Tejeda, Hugo A; Hanks, Ashley N; Scott, Liam et al. (2015) Prefrontal Cortical Kappa Opioid Receptors Attenuate Responses to Amygdala Inputs. Neuropsychopharmacology 40:2856-64
Lopez, Juan Carlos; Karlsson, Rose-Marie; O'Donnell, Patricio (2015) Dopamine D2 Modulation of Sign and Goal Tracking in Rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 40:2096-102
O'Donnell, Patricio; Do, Kim Q; Arango, Celso (2014) Oxidative/Nitrosative stress in psychiatric disorders: are we there yet? Schizophr Bull 40:960-2
Cabungcal, Jan Harry; Counotte, Danielle S; Lewis, Eastman et al. (2014) Juvenile antioxidant treatment prevents adult deficits in a developmental model of schizophrenia. Neuron 83:1073-1084
Tejeda, Hugo A; O'Donnell, Patricio (2014) Amygdala inputs to the prefrontal cortex elicit heterosynaptic suppression of hippocampal inputs. J Neurosci 34:14365-74
Bissonette, Gregory B; Bae, Mihyun H; Suresh, Tejas et al. (2014) Prefrontal cognitive deficits in mice with altered cerebral cortical GABAergic interneurons. Behav Brain Res 259:143-51
Dilgen, Jonathan; Tejeda, Hugo A; O'Donnell, Patricio (2013) Amygdala inputs drive feedforward inhibition in the medial prefrontal cortex. J Neurophysiol 110:221-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 46 publications