Behavioral effect of chemogenetic inhibition is directly related to receptor transduction levels in Rhesus monkeys

Nicholas A. Upright, Stephen W. Brookshire, Wendy Schnebelen, Christienne G. Damatac, Patrick R. Hof, Philip G.F. Browning, Paula L. Croxson, Peter H. Rudebeck, Mark G. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We used inhibitory DREADDs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs) to reversibly disrupt dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) function in male rhesus monkeys. Monkeys were tested on a spatial delayed response task to assess working memory function after intramuscular injection of either clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) or vehicle. CNO injections given before DREADD transduction were without effect on behavior. rAAV5/hSyn-hM4Di-mCherry was injected bilaterally into the dlPFC of five male rhesus monkeys, to produce neuronal expression of the inhibitory (Gi-coupled) DREADD receptor. We quantified the percentage of DREADD-transduced cells using stereological analysis of mCherry-immunolabeled neurons. We found a greater number of immunolabeled neurons in monkeys that displayed CNO-induced behavioral impairment after DREADD transduction compared with monkeys that showed no behavioral effect after CNO. Even in monkeys that showed reliable effects of CNO on behavior after DREADD transduction, the number of prefrontal neurons transduced with DREADD receptor was on the order of 3% of total prefrontal neurons counted. This level of histo-logical analysis facilitates our understanding of behavioral effects, or lack thereof, after DREADD vector injection in monkeys. It also implies that a functional silencing of a relatively small fraction of dlPFC neurons, albeit in a widely distributed area, is sufficient to disrupt spatial working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7969-7975
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
StatePublished - 12 Sep 2018


  • Chemogenetics
  • Prefrontal
  • Stereology
  • Working memory


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