The effects of antipsychotics on β-catenin, glycogen synthase kinase-3 and dishevelled in the ventral midbrain of rats


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Walter Rushlow, Department of Psychiatry, LHSC-UC, 330 Windermere Road, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5A5. E-mail:


Protein kinase B and glycogen synthase kinase-3 have been identified as susceptibility genes for schizophrenia and altered protein and mRNA levels have been detected in the brains of schizophrenics post-mortem. Recently, we reported that haloperidol, clozapine and risperidone alter glycogen synthase kinase-3 and β-catenin protein expression and glycogen synthase kinase-3 phosphorylation levels in the rat prefrontal cortex and striatum. In the current study, β-catenin, adenomatous polyposis coli, Wnt1, dishevelled and glycogen synthase kinase-3 were examined in the ventral midbrain and hippocampus using western blotting. In addition, β-catenin and GSK-3 were examined in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area using confocal and fluorescence microscopy. The results indicate that repeated antipsychotic administration results in significant elevations in glycogen synthase kinase-3, β-catenin and dishevelled-3 protein levels in the ventral midbrain and hippocampus. Raclopride causes similar changes in β-catenin and GSK-3 in the ventral midbrain, suggesting that D2 dopamine receptor antagonism mediated the changes observed following antipsychotic administration. In contrast, amphetamine, a drug capable of inducing psychotic episodes, had the opposite effect on β-catenin and GSK-3 in the ventral midbrain. Collectively, the results suggest that antipsychotics may exert their beneficial effects through modifications to proteins that are associated with the canonical Wnt pathway.