Behavioural effects of chronic haloperidol and risperidone treatment in rats

Tim Karl*, Liesl Duffy, Elizabeth O'Brien, Izuru Matsumoto, Irina Dedova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The therapeutic properties of typical antipsychotic drugs (APDs) such as haloperidol in schizophrenia treatment are mainly associated with their ability to block dopamine D2 receptors. This blockade is accompanied by side effects such as extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS). Atypical APDs such as risperidone have superior therapeutic efficacy possibly due to their activity at multiple receptors (in particular 5-HT2A receptors). Although the risk of EPS is significantly lower in atypical than in typical APDs, it is not negligible. To investigate and compare the behavioural profile and EPS-asssociated side effects of haloperidol and risperidone APD treatment we applied a multi-tiered, comprehensive behavioural phenotyping approach. Sprague-Dawley rats were treated chronically (28 days) with supratherapeutic EPS-inducing doses of haloperidol and risperidone using osmotic minipumps. Domains such as motor activity, exploration, memory, and anxiety were analysed together with EPS assessment ("early onset" vacuous chewing movements and catalepsy). Both APDs produced diminished motor activity and exploration, impaired working memory performances, and increased anxiety levels. These effects were more pronounced in haloperidol-treated animals. Chronic APD treatment also caused a time-course dependent elevation of EPS-like symptoms. Risperidone-treated animals showed a catalepsy-like phenotype, which differed to that of haloperidol-treated rats, indicating that processes other than the anticipated dopaminergic mechanisms are underlying this phenomenon. These EPS-related phenotypes are consistent with reported EPS-inducing D2 receptor occupancies of around 80%. Differences in the behavioural profile of haloperidol and risperidone, which were revealed by a comprehensive phenotyping strategy, are likely due to the unique receptor activation profiles of these APDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-294
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Sprague-Dawley rat
  • Antipsychotic drug
  • Haloperidol
  • Risperidone
  • Exploration
  • Motor activity
  • Osmotic pump
  • Learning and memory
  • Extrapyramidal symptoms
  • Anxiety


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