• muscarinic receptors;
  • NMDA hypofunction;
  • autoradiography;
  • animal model;
  • schizophrenia


Phencyclidine (PCP) is a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. Several studies have demonstrated that chronic NMDA receptor antagonist treatment in humans and animals can cause long-term behavioral changes that are reminiscent of negative and cognitive schizophrenia-like symptoms. The muscarinic cholinergic system, which is associated with cognitive functions, has been hypothesized to contribute to PCP's mechanism of action. No study, however, has examined the status of M1/4 receptors in the PCP model of schizophrenia. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of chronic (14 day) PCP treatment on mouse brain M1/4 receptors in the short term (1 hr and 24 hr) and long term (14 days) after last PCP administration. [3H]pirenzepine was used to target M1/4 receptors. In the short term following chronic PCP treatment, M1/4 binding was significantly increased in regions of the limbic system, caudate-putamen, cortex, and thalamus (ranging from 56% to 368%), compared with saline-treated mice. There were no differences in binding between mice treated with PCP for 14 days and sacrificed 1 hr or 24 hr after the final PCP treatment. In the long term following chronic PCP treatment, M1/4 binding was significantly decreased in all of the above-mentioned brain regions (ranging from 31% to 72%), except in the thalamus, which showed no change. These findings in the long-term group are similar to those reported in post-mortem studies of patients suffering from schizophrenia. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.