J Titulaer, A Malmerfelt, MM Marcus and TH Svensson,
European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Sep 2019 16
Recently, a single injection of the nitric oxide donor sodium nitroprusside (SNP) was found to induce a rapid and sustained antipsychotic effect in treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS). Moreover, a single i.p. injection of SNP in rats was found to generate both rapid and persisting changes in brain synaptic plasticity, including enhanced excitatory postsynaptic current responses and spine morphology in layer V pyramidal cells in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) brain slices. Here we used the conditioned avoidance response (CAR) test in rats to investigate the antipsychotic-like efficacy of SNP in combination with low-dose risperidone. In addition, we performed microdialysis experiments in freely moving rats to measure neurotransmitter efflux in the mPFC and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Risperidone caused only 20% suppression of CAR, which is far below the degree of CAR suppression required to predict a significant clinical antipsychotic effect. Addition of a low dose of SNP to risperidone dramatically enhanced the antipsychotic-like effect to a clinically relevant level. SNP significantly enhanced the risperidone-induced dopamine output in the mPFC but not in the NAc. The increased prefrontal dopamine release induced by the drug combination may also improve cognition as indicated by previous preclinical and clinical studies and, furthermore, via enhanced synaptic spine function and morphology in mPFC generate a both rapid and prolonged antipsychotic and pro-cognitive effect. Our results delineate SNP as a promising new treatment option for schizophrenia, including TRS, when added to currently available antipsychotic medication in order to improve efficacy at maintained or even reduced dosage.