Traditional and new antipsychotic drugs differentially alter neurotransmission markers in basal ganglia-thalamocortical neural pathways

Kazuo Sakai, Xue Min Gao, Takeshi Hashimoto, Carol A. Tamminga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The effects of three chronically administered antipsychotic drugs on selected neurochemical markers of dopaminergic and GABAergic transmission were compared within the cerebral regions making up the basal ganglia-thalamocortical parallel processing neuronal pathways. All three drugs reduce psychosis in humans, whereas only haloperidol, but not olanzapine or sertindole, induce purposeless oral chewing movements (CMs) in rats or cause high rates of parkinsonism or tardive dyskinesia in humans. Male Sprague Dawley rats were treated with haloperidol, sertindole, or olanzapine delivered in drinking water for 6 months at doses which produce drug plasma levels in rat in the human therapeutic range. Results show the expected dopamine D2 receptor upregulation in striatum predominantly with haloperidol, although mild D2 upregulation was apparent in striatum after olanzapine. GAD67 mRNA was increased in striatum and decreased in globus pallidus by haloperidol and sertindole, but not by olanzapine. In the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNR), both olanzapine and sertindole failed to induce GABAA receptor upregulation or D1 receptor downregulation, but haloperidol did both, confirming a previous report. In thalamus, all three drugs increased GAD expression in the reticular nucleus, whereas only haloperidol decreased GABAA binding in the mediodorsal nucleus, actions consistent with a reduction in nigrothalamic, GABA-mediated neural transmission. These results are consistent with the idea that the two new antipsychotics tested have mild and regionally restricted actions within the basal ganglia nuclei and a common action on increasing GAD expression in the reticular nucleus of the thalamus (RtN). Haloperidol, in contrast, has a broad and potent action in basal ganglia, causing changes in SNR and in the mediodorsal nucleus, while also altering GAD mRNA in RtN, potentially reflective of its dyskinetic and antipsychotic actions. Synapse 39:152-160, 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 8 2001


  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Chronic drug treatment
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Enkephalin mRNA
  • GABA receptors
  • GAD mRNA
  • Haloperidol
  • Olanzapine
  • Rats
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sertindole
  • Substance P mRNA
  • Tardive dyskinesia
  • VCM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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