Cannabinoid CB1 receptor dependent effects of the NMDA antagonist phencyclidine in the social withdrawal model of schizophrenia

J. Haller, M. Szirmai, B. Varga, C. Ledent, T. F. Freund

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical and laboratory findings suggest that cannabinoid signalling is implicated in schizophrenia. However, the interaction remains poorly understood, as data are often contradictory. Here we investigated wild-type (WT) and cannabinoid CB1 receptor-knockout (CB1-KO) mice in the phencyclidine-induced social withdrawal model of schizophrenia. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists (including phencyclidine) induce psychotic symptoms in humans, and are used to model schizophrenia in a variety of experimental conditions. In WTs, 5 mg/kg phencyclidine increased locomotion and stereotyped behaviours, and decreased social interactions. These changes are consistent with a schizophrenia-like effect In CB1-KOs, phencyclidine decreased locomotion, enhanced ataxia and stereotypy more markedly than in WTs, but did not affect social interactions. Locomotion showed a significant negative correlation with both ataxia and stereotypy, suggesting that in CB1-KOs, the locomotor suppressive effect of phencyclidine was secondary to changes in these variables. Our findings demonstrate that CB1 gene disruption dramatically alters the behavioural effects of the NMDA antagonist phencyclidine, suggesting that the CB1 receptor is involved in schizophrenia. As social disruption and stereotypy respectively are believed to model negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia, our findings tentatively suggest that cannabinoids are differentially involved in these two symptom categories. These findings require verification by experiments involving CB1 receptor blockers, as the genetic and pharmacological blockade of receptors may not always provide similar results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005



  • Ataxia
  • CB
  • Cannabinoid
  • Knockout
  • Mouse
  • Phencyclidine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Stereotypy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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