Background and Purpose: Schizophrenia pathophysiology has been associated with dopaminergic hyperactivity, loss of parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons, NMDA receptor hypofunction, and redox dysregulation. Most behavioral assays and animal models to study this condition were developed in rodents, leaving room for species-specific biases that could be avoided by cross-species approaches. As MK-801 and amphetamine are largely used in mice and rats to mimic schizophrenia features, this study aimed to investigate the effects of these drugs in zebrafish. Experimental Approach: Adult zebrafish were exposed to MK-801 (1, 5, and 10 uM) or amphetamine (0.625, 2.5, and 10 mg.L-1) and observed in paradigms of locomotor activity and social behavior. Oxidative parameters relevant to schizophrenia were quantified in brain tissue. Key Results: MK-801 disrupted social interaction, an effect that resembles the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. It also altered locomotion in a context-dependent manner, with hyperactivity when fish were tested in the presence of social cues and hypoactivity when tested alone. On the other hand, exposure to amphetamine was devoid of effects on locomotion and social behavior, while increased lipid peroxidation in the brain. Conclusion and Implications: Key outcomes induced by MK-801 in rodents were replicated in zebrafish, which suggests this species is suitable as an alternative model animal to study psychotic disorders. More studies are necessary to further develop preclinical paradigms with this species and ultimately optimize the screening of potential novel treatments.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience