Targeting α6GABAA receptors as a novel therapy for schizophrenia: A proof-of-concept preclinical study using various animal models

Ming Tatt Lee, Akihiro Mouri, Hisayoshi Kubota, Hsin Jung Lee, Man Hsin Chang, Chen Yi Wu, Daniel E. Knutson, Marko Mihovilovic, James Cook, Werner Sieghart, Toshitaka Nabeshima, Lih Chu Chiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


GABAA receptors containing α6 subunits (α6GABAARs) in the cerebellum have -been implicated in schizophrenia. It was reported that the GABA synthesizing enzymes were downregulated whereas α6GABAARs were upregulated in postmortem cerebellar tissues of patients with schizophrenia and in a rat model induced by chronic phencyclidine (PCP). We have previously demonstrated that pyrazoloquinolinone Compound 6, an α6GABAAR-highly selective positive allosteric modulator (PAM), can rescue the disrupted prepulse inhibition (PPI) induced by methamphetamine (METH), an animal model mimicking the sensorimotor gating deficit based on the hyper-dopaminergic hypothesis of schizophrenia. Here, we demonstrate that not only Compound 6, but also its structural analogues, LAU463 and LAU159, with similarly high α6GABAAR selectivity and their respective deuterated derivatives (DK-I-56-1, DK-I-58-1 and DK-I-59-1) can rescue METH-induced PPI disruption. Besides, Compound 6 and DK-I-56-I can also rescue the PPI disruption induced by acute administration of PCP, an animal model based on the hypo-glutamatergic hypothesis of schizophrenia. Importantly, Compound 6 and DK-I-56-I, at doses not affecting spontaneous locomotor activity, can also rescue impairments of social interaction and novel object recognition in mice induced by chronic PCP treatments. At similar doses, Compound 6 did not induce sedation but significantly suppressed METH-induced hyperlocomotion. Thus, α6GABAAR-selective PAMs can rescue not only disrupted PPI but also hyperlocomotion, social withdrawal, and cognitive impairment, in both METH- and PCP-induced animal models mimicking schizophrenia, suggesting that they are a potential novel therapy for the three core symptoms, i.e. positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive impairment, of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113022
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - 06-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


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