Comparison of three DREADD agonists acting on Gq-DREADDs in the ventral tegmental area to alter locomotor activity in tyrosine hydroxylase:Cre male and female rats

Hannah L. Robinson, Katherine L. Nicholson, Keith L. Shelton, Peter J. Hamilton, Matthew L. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: Despite the increasingly pervasive use of chemogenetic tools in preclinical neuroscience research, the in vivo pharmacology of DREADD agonists remains poorly understood. The pharmacological effects of any ligand acting at receptors, engineered or endogenous, are influenced by numerous factors including potency, time course, and receptor selectivity. Thus, rigorous comparison of the potency and time course of available DREADD ligands may provide an empirical foundation for ligand selection. Objectives: Compare the behavioral pharmacology of three different DREADD ligands clozapine-N-oxide (CNO), compound 21 (C21), and deschloroclozapine (DCZ) in a locomotor activity assay in tyrosine hydroxylase:cre recombinase (TH:Cre) male and female rats. Methods: Locomotor activity in nine adult TH:Cre Sprague-Dawley rats (5 female, 4 male) was monitored for two hours following administration of D-amphetamine (vehicle, 0.1–3.2 mg/kg, IP), DCZ (vehicle, 0.32–320 µg/kg, IP), CNO (vehicle, 0.32–10 mg/kg), and C21 (vehicle, 0.1–3.2 mg/kg, IP). Behavioral sessions were conducted twice per week prior to and starting three weeks after bilateral intra-VTA hM3Dq DREADD virus injection. Results: D-Amphetamine significantly increased locomotor activity pre- and post-DREADD virus injection. DCZ, CNO, and C21 did not alter locomotor activity pre-DREADD virus injection. There was no significant effect of DCZ, CNO, and C21 on locomotor activity post-DREADD virus injection; however, large individual differences in both behavioral response and receptor expression were observed. Conclusions: Large individual variability was observed in both DREADD agonist behavioral effects and receptor expression. These results suggest further basic research would facilitate the utility of these chemogenetic tools for behavioral neuroscience research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114674
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume455
DOIs
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clozapine N-oxide
  • Compound 21
  • DREADD
  • Deschloroclozapine
  • Locomotor activity
  • TH:Cre rats

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