Gym Rats: Exercise Reverses Cognitive Impairment in The PCP Rat Model of Schizophrenia

Poster C91, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Lisa Heaney1, Alison Yung1, Joanna Neill1, Michael Harte1; 1The University of Manchester

Purpose: Cognitive impairment is a core feature of schizophrenia. Although cognitive deficits predict long-term outcome, there are few interventions to treat them. Exercise improves cognition in people with schizophrenia, although how it does this is poorly understood. Materials and methods: The phencyclidine (PCP) rat model is well-validated and used to study schizophrenia-like cognitive impairments. Female Lister-Hooded rats (n=40) were pseudo-randomised into four groups: vehicle-control; vehicle-exercise; PCP-control; and PCP-exercise (n=10/group). Rats were treated with saline (vehicle) or PCP (2mg/kg, i.p.) for one week, followed by one week washout. The exercise groups were given access to wheels for an hour each day, five days per week for six weeks, and the control groups were not. Rat were tested with the novel object recognition (NOR) task, a test of cognition, pre- and post-intervention (or control). Data were analysed using t-tests or two-way ANOVA. Results: Pre-intervention, both vehicle groups (n=20) were not impaired and could perform the NOR task. The PCP groups were impaired when compared to the vehicle rats (n=20, p<0.001). Post exercise, neither the vehicle-exercise nor vehicle-control group were impaired at NOR (p<0.01). The PCP-control group were impaired, but the PCP-exercise group were not (p<0.001). Conclusion: Exercise is able to rescue the PCP-induced cognitive deficit in rats. This supports human studies that suggest exercise can be used as an adjunct therapy in schizophrenia. It is increasingly understood that early intervention is key to maximising functional outcome, therefore exercise could be used to improve cognition in early psychosis in order to improve outcome.

Topic Area: Translational Research

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