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Schizophrenia patients, long-term abusers of phencyclidine (PCP), and monkeys treated with PCP all exhibit enduring cognitive deficits. Evidence indicates that loss of prefrontal cortex spine synapses results in cognitive dysfunction, suggesting the presence of synaptic pathology in the monkey PCP model; however, there is no direct evidence of such changes. In this study we use the monkey PCP model of schizophrenia to investigate at the ultrastructural level whether remodelling of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) asymmetric spine synapses occurs following PCP. Subchronic PCP treatment resulted in a decrease in the number of asymmetric spine synapses, which was greater in layer II/III than layer V of DLPFC, compared to vehicle-treated controls. This decrease may contribute to PCP-induced cognitive dysfunction in the non-human primate model and perhaps in schizophrenia. Thus, the synapse loss in the PCP model provides a novel target for the development of potential treatments of cognitive dysfunction in this model and in schizophrenia.


John D Elsworth, Tibor Hajszan, Csaba Leranth, Robert H Roth. Loss of asymmetric spine synapses in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of cognitively impaired phencyclidine-treated monkeys. The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology / official scientific journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP). 2011 Nov;14(10):1411-5

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PMID: 21733230

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