MK-801-induced deficits in social recognition in rats: reversal by aripiprazole, but not olanzapine, risperidone, or cannabidiol

S Deiana, A Watanabe, Y Yamasaki, N Amada, T Kikuchi, C Stott, G Riedel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Deficiencies in social activities are hallmarks of numerous brain disorders. With respect to schizophrenia, social withdrawal belongs to the category of negative symptoms and is associated with deficits in the cognitive domain. Here, we used the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist dizocilpine (MK-801) for induction of social withdrawal in rats and assessed the efficacy of several atypical antipsychotics with different pharmacological profiles as putative treatment. In addition, we reasoned that the marijuana constituent cannabidiol (CBD) may provide benefit or could be proposed as an adjunct treatment in combination with antipsychotics. Hooded Lister rats were tested in the three-chamber version for social interaction, with an initial novelty phase, followed after 3 min by a short-term recognition memory phase. No drug treatment affected sociability. However, distinct effects on social recognition were revealed. MK-801 reduced social recognition memory at all doses (>0.03 mg/kg). Predosing with aripiprazole dose-dependently (2 or 10 mg/kg) prevented the memory decline, but doses of 0.1 mg/kg risperidone or 1 mg/kg olanzapine did not. Intriguingly, CBD impaired social recognition memory (12 and 30 mg/kg) but did not rescue the MK-801-induced deficits. When CBD was combined with protective doses of aripiprazole (CBD-aripiprazole at 12 :  or 5 : 2 mg/kg) the benefit of the antipsychotic was lost. At the same time, activity-related changes in behaviour were excluded as underlying reasons for these pharmacological effects. Collectively, the combined activity of aripiprazole on dopamine D2 and serotonin 5HT1A receptors appears to provide a significant advantage over risperidone and olanzapine with respect to the rescue of cognitive deficits reminiscent of schizophrenia. The differential pharmacological properties of CBD, which are seemingly beneficial in human patients, did not back-translate and rescue the MK-801-induced social memory deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-65
Number of pages18
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Aripiprazole
  • Cannabidiol
  • dizocilpine (MK-801)
  • rat
  • recognition
  • risperidone
  • short term memory
  • social interaction
  • three-chamber apparatus


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