• atypical antipsychotics;
  • synaptic proteins;
  • hippocampal dendritic outgrowth

Recent evidence has suggested that atypical antipsychotic drugs regulate synaptic plasticity. We investigated whether some atypical antipsychotic drugs (olanzapine, aripiprazole, quetiapine, and ziprasidone) altered the expression of synapse-associated proteins in rat hippocampal neuronal cultures under toxic conditions induced by B27 deprivation. A typical antipsychotic, haloperidol, was used for comparison. We measured changes in the expression of various synaptic proteins including postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and synaptophysin (SYP). Then we examined whether these drugs affected the dendritic morphology of hippocampal neurons. We found that olanzapine, aripiprazole, and quetiapine, but not haloperidol, significantly hindered the B27 deprivation-induced decrease in the levels of these synaptic proteins. Ziprasidone did not affect PSD-95 or BDNF levels, but significantly increased the levels of SYP under B27 deprivation conditions. Moreover, olanzapine and aripiprazole individually significantly increased the levels of PSD-95 and BDNF, respectively, even under normal conditions, whereas haloperidol decreased the levels of PSD-95. These drugs increased the total outgrowth of hippocampal dendrites via PI3K signaling, whereas haloperidol had no effect in this regard. Together, these results suggest that the up-regulation of synaptic proteins and dendritic outgrowth may represent key effects of some atypical antipsychotic drugs but that haloperidol may be associated with distinct actions. Synapse 67:224–234, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.