RATIONALE - Acute administration of typical antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol, results in the induction of the immediate-early gene c-fos in the dorsolateral striatum. In contrast, the atypical antipsychotic drug clozapine, which lacks significant extrapyramidal side effect liability, does not induce Fos protein in the dorsal striatum. Several studies have attempted to define the mechanisms through which typical antipsychotic drugs induce striatal Fos, often by pretreating animals with specific receptor antagonists. Despite the broad receptor profile of clozapine, there has been no study of the effect of clozapine pretreatment on haloperidol-elicited striatal Fos expression.
METHODS - We examined the effects of clozapine pretreatment of rats on haloperidol-elicited forebrain Fos expression, using both immunoblot and immunohistochemical methods. The effects of clozapine pretreatment were assessed in the dorsal striatum and in the different nucleus accumbens compartments, the septum, and the prefrontal cortex.
RESULTS - Clozapine pretreatment markedly decreased haloperidol-elicited striatal Fos induction and blocked haloperidol-induced catalepsy. Clozapine also attenuated haloperidol-elicited Fos expression in the nucleus accumbens, but in the prefrontal cortex and ventrolateral septum the effects of haloperidol and clozapine were additive.
CONCLUSIONS - An emerging body of literature suggests a high incidence of rapid relapse in schizophrenic patients when clozapine treatment is discontinued. This psychosis is relatively resistant to haloperidol and other neuroleptics, even in patients who had previously responded well to neuroleptics. The present data may shed light on the central sites associated with and perhaps model certain aspects of the relapse associated with clozapine discontinuation.