Neonatal excitotoxic hippocampal damage in the rat results in postpubertal onset of a variety of abnormal behaviors related to excessive dopaminergic transmission in the mesolimbic/nigrostriatal system, and thus may be considered an animal model of some aspects of schizophrenia. Because sensorimotor gating is impaired in adult patients with schizophrenia and in rats with experimentally induced mesolimbic dopamine hyperactivity, the present experiments investigated the effects of neonatal (postnatal day 7, PD7) ibotenic acid (3 μg) lesions of the ventral hippocampus (VH) on the amplitude and prepulse inhibition (PPI) of acoustic startle in prepubertal (PD35) and postpubertal (PD56) rats. Startle was elicited using 105 and 118-dB pulses alone or preceded by 4, 8, or 16 dB above-background prepulses in rats treated with vehicle or apomorphine (APO; 0.025 or 0.1 mg/kg SC). At PD35, PPI in VH-lesioned rats did not differ significantly from these measures in sham operated rats. Apomorphine significantly increased startle amplitude and reduced PPI in both sham operated and VH-lesioned rats at PD35. At PD56, startle amplitude in VH-lesioned rats was not significantly different from controls, but PPI was reduced significantly compared to controls. Ventral hippocampus lesioned rats also exhibited an exaggerated reduction in PPI after treatment with APO. These findings provide further evidence of postpubertal impairments that may be related to increased mesolimbic dopamine transmission and receptor sensitivity in rats with neonatal hippocampal damage, and provide further support for the fidelity of this animal model of schizophrenia.
- Ibotenic acid
- Neonatal lesion
- Prepulse inhibition of startle
- Sensorimotor gating
ASJC Scopus subject areas