Disruption of social cognition in the sub-chronic PCP rat model of schizophrenia: Possible involvement of the endocannabinoid system

Alexandre Seillier, Andrea Giuffrida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that social withdrawal in the phencyclidine (PCP) rat model of schizophrenia results from deficient endocannabinoid-induced activation of CB1 receptors. To understand the underlying cognitive mechanisms of the social deficit in PCP-treated rats, we examined the impact of pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system on sociability (i.e. social approach) and social novelty preference (which relies on social recognition).Control rats showed a clear preference for a "social" cage (i.e. unfamiliar stimulus rat placed under a wire mesh cage) versus an "empty" cage, and spent more time exploring a "novel" cage (i.e. new stimulus rat) versus a "familiar" cage. In contrast, rats receiving PCP (mg/kg, b.i.d. for 7 days, followed by a 7 day-washout period) showed intact sociability, but lacked social novelty preference. This PCP-induced deficit was due to increased activity at CB1 receptors as it was reversed by systemic administration of the CB1 antagonist AM251 (mg/kg). In agreement with this hypothesis, the cannabinoid agonist CP55,940 (0.003-0.03 mg/kg) dose-dependently suppressed social novelty preference in control animals without affecting sociability. Taken together, these data suggest that PCP-treated rats have a deficit in social cognition, possibly induced by increased stimulation of CB1 receptors. This deficit, however, is distinct from the social withdrawal previously observed in these animals, as the latter is due to deficient, rather than increased, CB1 stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-309
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016



  • Endocannabinoid
  • Odor discrimination
  • Phencyclidine
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology

Cite this