Background:Adult rats exposed to methylazoxymethanol (MAM) at embryonic day 17 (E17) consistently display behavioral characteristics similar to that observed in patients with schizophrenia and replicate neuropathological findings from the prefrontal cortex of psychotic individuals. However, a systematic neuropathological analysis of the hippocampal formation and the thalamus in these rats is lacking. It is also unclear if reelin, a protein consistently associated with schizophrenia and potentially involved in the mechanism of action of MAM, participates in the neuropathological effects of this compound. Therefore, a thorough assessment including cytoarchitectural and neuromorphometric measurements of eleven brain regions was conducted. Numbers of reelin positive cells and reelin expression and methylation levels were also studied. Principal Findings:Compared to untreated rats, MAM-exposed animals showed a reduction in the volume of entorhinal cortex, hippocampus and mediodorsal thalamus associated with decreased neuronal soma. The entorhinal cortex also showed laminar disorganization and neuronal clusters. Reelin methylation in the hippocampus was decreased whereas reelin positive neurons and reelin expression were unchanged. Conclusions:Our results indicate that E17-MAM exposure reproduces findings from the hippocampal formation and the mediodorsal thalamus of patients with schizophrenia while providing little support for reelin's involvement. Moreover, these results strongly suggest MAM-treated animals have a diminished neuropil, which likely arises from abnormal neurite formation; this supports a recently proposed pathophysiological hypothesis for schizophrenia.
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