Aberrant prefrontal-hippocampal (PFC-HC) connectivity is disrupted in several psychiatric and at-risk conditions. Advances in rodent functional imaging have opened the possibility that this phenotype could serve as a translational imaging marker for psychiatric research. Recent evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies has indicated an increase in PFC-HC coupling during working-memory tasks in both schizophrenic patients and at-risk populations, in contrast to a decrease in resting-state PFC-HC connectivity. Acute ketamine challenge is widely used in both humans and rats as a pharmacological model to study the mechanisms of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction in the context of psychiatric disorders.
We aimed to establish whether acute ketamine challenge has consistent effects in rats and humans by investigating resting-state fMRI PFC-HC connectivity and thus to corroborate its potential utility as a translational probe.
Twenty-four healthy human subjects (12 females, mean age 25 years) received intravenous doses of either saline (placebo) or ketamine (0.5 mg/kg body weight). Eighteen Sprague-Dawley male rats received either saline or ketamine (25 mg/kg). Resting-state fMRI measurements took place after injections, and the data were analyzed for PFC-HC functional connectivity.
In both species, ketamine induced a robust increase in PFC-HC coupling, in contrast to findings in chronic schizophrenia.
This translational comparison demonstrates a cross-species consistency in pharmacological effect and elucidates ketamine-induced alterations in PFC-HC coupling, a phenotype often disrupted in pathological conditions, which may give clue to understanding of psychiatric disorders and their onset, and help in the development of new treatments.
Grimm, O., Gass, N., Weber-Fahr, W., Sartorius, A., Schenker, E., Spedding, M., … & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2015). Acute ketamine challenge increases resting state prefrontal-hippocampal connectivity in both humans and rats. Psychopharmacology, 1-11.