Recent findings from in vivo-imaging and human post-mortem tissue studies in schizophrenic psychosis (SzP), have demonstrated functional and molecular changes in hippocampal subfields that can be associated with hippocampal hyperexcitability. In this study, we used a subfield-specific GluN1 knockout mouse with a disease-like molecular perturbation expressed only in hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and assessed its association with hippocampal physiology and psychosis-like behaviors. First, we used whole-cell patch-clamp recordings to measure the physiological changes in hippocampal subfields and cFos immunohistochemistry to examine cellular excitability. DG-GluN1 KO mice show CA3 cellular hyperactivity, detected using two approaches: (1) increased excitatory glutamate transmission at mossy fibers (MF)-CA3 synapses, and (2) an increased number of cFos-activated pyramidal neurons in CA3, an outcome that appears to project downstream to CA1 and basolateral amygdala (BLA). Furthermore, we examined psychosis-like behaviors and pathological memory processing; these show an increase in fear conditioning (FC), a reduction in prepulse inhibition (PPI) in the KO animal, along with a deterioration in memory accuracy with Morris Water Maze (MWM) and reduced social memory (SM). Moreover, with DREADD vectors, we demonstrate a remarkably similar behavioral profile when we induce CA3 hyperactivity. These hippocampal subfield changes could provide the basis for the observed increase in human hippocampal activity in SzP, based on the shared DG-specific GluN1 reduction. With further characterization, these animal model systems may serve as targets to test psychosis mechanisms related to hippocampus and assess potential hippocampus-directed treatments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience