Abstract Increased vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, has been associated with higher levels of stress. In the early development of the central nervous system, changes in function of glutamatergic N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors can possibly result in the development of psychosis, cognitive impairment and emotional dysfunction in adulthood. Thus, in this study we examined the behavioural consequences of the exposure of male rats to chronic stress (postnatal days 30-60) and ketamine administration (postnatal days 41-45); both during a sensitive developmental time window. We found that the locomotor activity of both ketamine and ketamine+chronic stress groups was significantly higher compared with that of the control rats. In contrast, the locomotor activity of the chronic stress group was significantly lower compared with all other groups. Examining anhedonia in the sucrose preference test we found a significantly decreased sucrose intake in both ketamine+chronic stress and the chronic stress groups compared with the control rats. No significant differences were observed in sucrose intake between the control and the ketamine group. The object recognition test revealed that the attention to the novel object was significantly impaired in the ketamine+chronic stress group. Similarly, the ketamine+chronic stress group showed the poorest learning ability in the eight-arm radial maze, starting on the 8th day. Finally, throughout the different pre-pulse intensities, the ketamine+chronic stress group showed impaired PPI compared with all other groups. The results indicate that the combination of prepubertal onset of chronic stress and ketamine may serve as a valid novel animal model for schizophrenia-like symptoms.
- chronic stress