Altered N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor function in reelin heterozygous mice: Male–female differences and comparison with dopaminergic activity Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of this study was to investigate the in vivo relationship between reelin and NMDA receptor function in schizophrenia. We assessed the effect of reelin deficiency in behavioral models of aspects of this illness, NMDA receptor subunit levels, and NMDA receptor, dopamine D₂ receptor, and dopamine transporter density. Male, but not female, reelin heterozygous mice showed significantly enhanced MK-801-induced locomotor hyperactivity compared to wildtype controls (7.4-fold vs. 5.2-fold effect of MK-801 over saline, respectively) but there were no genotype differences in the response to amphetamine. Both male and female reelin heterozygous mice showed enhanced effects of MK-801 on startle, but not prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle. There were no group differences in the effect of apomorphine on startle or PPI. The levels of NMDA receptor subunits were not altered in the striatum. In the frontal cortex, male and female reelin heterozygous mice showed significant up-regulation of NR1 subunits, but down-regulation of NR2C subunits, which was associated with significantly elevated NR1/NR2A and NR1/NR2C ratios. However, there were no differences in [³H]MK-801 binding density in the nucleus accumbens or caudate nucleus, nor in the density of [³H]YM-09151 or [³H]GBR12935 in these brain regions. The enhanced effects of MK-801 in reelin heterozygous mice in this study could be reflective of the role of reelin deficiency in schizophrenia. This genotype effect was male-specific for locomotor hyperactivity, a model of psychosis, but was seen in male and female mice for startle, which could be an indication of changes in anxiety. Changes in NMDA receptor subunit levels and ratios were also seen in both male and female mice. These results suggest that the role of reelin deficiency in schizophrenia may be particularly mediated by altered NMDA receptor responses, with some of these effects being strictly sex-specific.

publication date

  • June 2012

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