Prepulse inhibition of startle (PPI) is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating that is impaired in schizophrenia. Treatment with mixed dopamine D2/D3 antagonists diminishes schizophrenia symptoms, and opposes dopamine agonist-induced PPI deficits in rats. There are reasons to believe that functional D3 receptor antagonists might offer more favorable therapeutic profiles compared to current antipsychotics. However, D3-related drug discovery is hampered by the absence of assays sensitive to D3-mediated (antipsychotic) properties in vivo. Here, we characterized two putative D3-active compounds - WC10 and WC44 - in a PPI-based screening assay, comparing the sensitivity of test compounds to oppose PPI deficits induced by the mixed D1/D2-like agonist apomorphine vs. the preferential D3 agonist pramipexole in rats. WC10, WC44 (0, 1, 3, 10 mg/kg, each), and the preferential D2 antagonist L741,626 (0, 1 mg/kg) were studied, in combination with apomorphine (0, 0.5 mg/kg), or pramipexole (0, 1 mg/kg). L741,626 prevented apomorphine-, but not pramipexole-induced PPI deficits. WC10, but not WC44, prevented apomorphine-induced PPI deficits; both compounds opposed pramipexole-induced PPI deficits, suggesting functional D3 and D1/D2 antagonist profiles for WC10, and functional D3 receptor antagonism for WC44. This assay may be valuable for detecting predominantly D3 vs. D2 receptor-linked mechanisms of action in vivo.
- D3 selective compounds
- Prepulse inhibition