Effects of prenatal methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) treatment in rats on water maze performance

Andreas Leng, Ana L. Jongen-Rêlo, Helen H.J. Pothuizen, Joram Feldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prenatal methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) treatment has been shown to induce morphological abnormalities in cortical areas of the offspring. Based on the neuroanatomical and behavioural abnormalities, this treatment has been suggested as a useful animal model for schizophrenia. In a previous study (Jongen-Rêlo AL, Leng A, Luber M, Pothuizen HHJ, Weber L, Feldon J. The prenatal methylazoxymethanol acetate treatment: a neurodevelopmental animal model for schizophrenia? Behav Brain Res 2004;149:159-81) we have studied MAM-treated animals in a series of behavioural tests related to schizophrenia, such as latent inhibition and pre-pulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response to establish the validity of prenatal MAM treatment (20 mg/kg i.p. on gestational days 9-15; MAM 9-MAM 15). We found that, apart from a marginal effect of increased activity in the open field, the MAM treatment on gestational day 15 was behaviourally ineffective. Here, we extended our previous study to a water maze experiment conducted in the same batch of animals as presented previously (MAM 12-MAM 15). MAM-treated animals showed similar water maze performance compared with control animals during the acquisition phase and the probe tests. However, during the reversal phase, MAM 15 animals showed impaired acquisition of the new platform location. This might indicate some cognitive deficits in MAM 15 animals in terms of working memory or behavioural flexibility. However, in combination with the lack of behavioural abnormalities of MAM 12-MAM 15 animals in several other tests related to schizophrenia in the previously reported study, the use of MAM treatment (MAM 12-MAM 15) as a valid model for schizophrenia still remains debatable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Prenatal treatment
  • Reversal learning
  • Schizophrenia
  • Spatial memory


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