Pimavanserin augments the efficacy of atypical antipsychotic drugs in a mouse model of treatment-refractory negative symptoms of schizophrenia

L. Rajagopal, C. Ryan, A. Elzokaky, E. S. Burstein, H. Y. Meltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Negative symptoms are a core, pervasive, and often treatment-refractory phenotype of schizophrenia, one which contributes to poor functional outcome, ability to work, pursue educational goals, and quality of life, as well as caretaker burden. Improvement of negative symptoms in some patients with schizophrenia has been reported with some atypical antipsychotic drugs [AAPDs], but improvement is absent in many patients and partial in others. Therefore, more effective treatments are needed, and better preclinical models of negative symptoms are needed to identify them. Sub-chronic [sc] treatment of rodents with phencyclidine [PCP], a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate [NMDAR] antagonist, produces deficits in social interactions [SI] that have been widely studied as a model of negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Acute restraint stress [ARS] also provides a model of treatment-refractory negative symptoms [TRS] to AAPDs. By themselves, in sc-PCP mice, the AAPDs, risperidone, olanzapine, and aripiprazole, but not the selective 5-HT2AR inverse agonist, pimavanserin [PIM], rescued the SI deficit in sc-PCP mice, as did the combination of PIM with sub-effective doses of each of these AAPDs. These three AAPDs alone did not rescue SI deficit in sc-PCP+ 2 h-ARS mice, indicating these mice were treatment refractory. However, co-administration of PIM with any of the AAPDs significantly restored SI in these mice. PIM may be an effective adjunctive therapy for treating negative symptoms of schizophrenia in some patients who have failed to respond to AAPDs, but further studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113710
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Mar 26 2022


  • Acute restraint stress
  • Atypical antipsychotic drugs
  • Negative symptoms
  • Phencyclidine
  • Pimavanserin
  • Serotonin
  • Social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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