Chronic oral treatment with risperidone impairs recognition memory and alters brain-derived neurotrophic factor and related signaling molecules in rats

Indrani Poddar, Patrick M. Callahan, Caterina M. Hernandez, Anilkumar Pillai, Xiangkun Yang, Michael G. Bartlett, Alvin V. Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Antipsychotic drugs (APDs) are essential for the treatment of schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disease. However, they are also extensively prescribed off-label for many other conditions, a practice that is controversial given their potential for long-term side effects. There is clinical and preclinical evidence that chronic treatment with some APDs may lead to impairments in cognition and decreases in brain volume, although the molecular mechanisms of these effects are unknown. The purpose of the rodent studies described here was to evaluate a commonly prescribed APD, risperidone, for chronic effects on recognition memory, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), its precursor proBDNF, as well as relevant downstream signaling molecules that are known to influence neuronal plasticity and cognition. Multiple cohorts of adult rats were treated with risperidone (2.5 mg/kg/day) or vehicle (dilute acetic acid solution) in their drinking water for 30 or 90 days. Subjects were then evaluated for drug effects on recognition memory in a spontaneous novel object recognition task and protein levels of BDNF-related signaling molecules in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The results indicated that depending on the treatment period, a therapeutically relevant daily dose of risperidone impaired recognition memory and increased the proBDNF/BDNF ratio in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Risperidone treatment also led to a decrease in Akt and CREB phosphorylation in the prefrontal cortex. These results indicate that chronic treatment with a commonly prescribed APD, risperidone, has the potential to adversely affect recognition memory and neurotrophin-related signaling molecules that support synaptic plasticity and cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number172853
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020



  • Antipsychotic
  • Brain volume
  • Cognition
  • Neurotrophin
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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