Reduced type III neuregulin 1 expression does not modulate the behavioural sensitivity of mice to acute Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (D9-THC).Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2018 07; 170:64-70.PB
Mice with a mutation in the transmembrane domain of the schizophrenia risk gene, neuregulin 1 (Nrg1 TM HET), are more susceptible to the neuro-behavioural effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (D9-THC), the principal psychoactive component in cannabis. However, NRG1 is transcriptionally complex with over 30 different isoforms, most of which carry a transmembrane domain, raising the question which NRG1 isoform(s) may contribute to this phenotype. Type III NRG1/Nrg1 is the most brain abundant isoform and brain studies have identified increased levels of type III NRG1 mRNA in humans carrying a NRG1 risk haplotype for schizophrenia. To investigate whether mice heterozygous for type III Nrg1 (i.e. knockout: type III Nrg1+/-) are more susceptible to the behavioural effects of acute doses of D9-THC, we injected male mice with either vehicle or D9-THC (3 or 10 mg/kg) before testing them for locomotion, anxiety, social interaction, and sensorimotor gating. Acute D9-THC led to reduced locomotion and reduced social interaction, but increased anxiety in mice. Furthermore, type III Nrg1 males displayed a robust deficit in sensorimotor gating and demonstrated reduced following during social interaction across drug conditions. However, they did not show a change in behavioural susceptibility to acute D9-THC compared to controls. These results reinforce the validity of type III Nrg1+/- mice for schizophrenia research and suggest that loss of function of type III Nrg1 may not be responsible for the exaggerated response to acute D9-THC observed in heterozygous Nrg1 TM mice. This highlights the importance of careful consideration of Nrg1 isoform type differences.