HDAC inhibitors restore the capacity of aged mice to respond to haloperidol through modulation of histone acetylation

Janitza L. Montalvo-Ortiz, Jack Keegan, Christopher Gallardo, Nicolas Gerst, Kazuhiro Tetsuka, Chris Tucker, Mitsuyuki Matsumoto, Deyu Fang, John G. Csernansky, Hongxin Dong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Antipsychotic drugs are widely prescribed to elderly patients for the treatment of a variety of psychopathological conditions, including psychosis and the behavioral disturbances associated with dementia. However, clinical experience suggests that these drugs may be less efficacious in the elderly individuals than in the young. Recent studies suggest that aging may be associated with epigenetic changes and that valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, may reverse such changes. However, it is not yet known whether HDAC inhibitors can modulate age-related epigenetic changes that may impact antipsychotic drug action. In this study, we analyzed conditioned avoidance response (CAR) and c-Fos expression patterns to elucidate the effect of HDAC inhibitors VPA and entinostat (MS-275) on behavioral and molecular markers of the effects of haloperidol (HAL) in aged mice. Our results showed that HAL administration failed to suppress the avoidance response during the CAR test, suggesting an age-related decrease in drug efficacy. In addition, HAL-induced c-Fos expression in the nucleus accumbens shell and prefrontal cortex was significantly lower in aged mice as compared with young mice. Pretreatment with VPA and MS-275 significantly improved HAL effects on the CAR test in aged mice. Also, VPA and MS-275 pretreatment restored HAL-induced increases in c-Fos expression in the nucleus accumbens shell and prefrontal cortex of aged mice to levels comparable with those observed in young mice. Lastly, but most importantly, increases in c-Fos expression and HAL efficacy in the CAR test of the HAL+VPA and HAL+MS-275 groups were correlated with elevated histone acetylation at the c-fos promoter region in aged mice. These findings suggest that pretreatment with VPA or MS-275 increases the behavioral and molecular effects of HAL in aged mice and that these effects occur via modulation of age-related histone hypoacetylation in the nucleus accumbens shell and prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1469-1478
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2014



  • aging
  • entinostat (MS-275)
  • epigenetics
  • haloperidol
  • mice
  • valproic acid (VPA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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