Background: Older patients can be especially susceptible to antipsychotic-induced side effects, and the pharmacodynamic mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains unclear. We hypothesized that age-related epigenetic alterations lead to decreased expression and functionality of the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R), contributing to this susceptibility. Methods: In this study, we treated young (2–3 months old) and aged (22–24 months old) C57BL/6 mice with the D2R antagonist haloperidol (HAL) once a day for 14 days to evaluate HAL-induced motor side effects. In addition, we pretreated separate groups of young and aged mice with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors valproic acid (VPA) or entinostat (MS-275) and then administered HAL. Results: Our results show that the motor side effects of HAL are exaggerated in aged mice as compared to young mice and that HDAC inhibitors are able to reverse the severity of these deficits. HAL-induced motor deficits in aged mice are associated with an age- and drug-dependent decrease in striatal D2R protein levels and functionality. Further, histone acetylation was reduced while histone tri-methylation was increased at specific lysine residues of H3 and H4 within the Drd2 promoter in the striatum of aged mice. HDAC inhibitors, particularly VPA, restored striatal D2R protein levels and functionality and reversed age- and drug-related histone modifications at the Drd2 promoter. Conclusions: These results suggest that epigenetic changes at the striatal Drd2 promoter drive age-related increases in antipsychotic side effect susceptibility, and HDAC inhibitors may be an effective adjunct treatment strategy to reduce side effects in aged populations.
- Antipsychotic drug
- Dopamine D2 receptor
- Histone deacetylase inhibitors
- Motor side effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas