Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 October 2015
The brainstem-derived neuropeptide S (NPS) has a multidirectional regulatory activity, especially as a potent anxiolytic factor. Accumulating data suggests that neuroleptics affect peptidergic signalling in various brain structures. However, there is no information regarding the influence of haloperidol on NPS and NPS receptor (NPSR) expression.
We assessed NPS and NPSR mRNA levels in brains of rats treated with haloperidol using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Chronic haloperidol treatment (4 weeks) led to a striking upregulation of NPS and NPSR expression in the rat brainstem. Conversely, the NPSR mRNA expression was decreased in the hippocampus and striatum.
This stark increase of NPS in response to haloperidol treatment supports the hypothesis that this neuropeptide is involved in the dopamine-dependent anxiolytic actions of neuroleptics and possibly also in the pathophysiology of mental disorders. Furthermore, our findings underline the complex nature of potential interactions between dopamine receptors and brain peptidergic pathways, which has potential clinical applications.