Phencyclidine Disrupts Neural Coordination and Cognitive Control by Dysregulating Translation

Eun Hye Park, Hsin Yi Kao, Hussam Jourdi, Milenna T. van Dijk, Simón Carrillo-Segura, Kayla W. Tunnell, Jeffrey Gutierrez, Emma J. Wallace, Matthew Troy-Regier, Basma Radwan, Edith Lesburguères, Juan Marcos Alarcon, André A. Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Phencyclidine (PCP) causes psychosis, is abused with increasing frequency, and was extensively used in antipsychotic drug discovery. PCP discoordinates hippocampal ensemble action potential discharge and impairs cognitive control in rats, but how this uncompetitive NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist impairs cognition remains unknown. Methods: The effects of PCP were investigated on hippocampal CA1 ensemble action potential discharge in vivo in urethane-anesthetized rats and during awake behavior in mice, on synaptic responses in ex vivo mouse hippocampus slices, in mice on a hippocampus-dependent active place avoidance task that requires cognitive control, and on activating the molecular machinery of translation in acute hippocampus slices. Mechanistic causality was assessed by comparing the PCP effects with the effects of inhibitors of protein synthesis, group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1/5), and subunit-selective NMDARs. Results: Consistent with ionotropic actions, PCP discoordinated CA1 ensemble action potential discharge. PCP caused hyperactivity and impaired active place avoidance, despite the rodents having learned the task before PCP administration. Consistent with metabotropic actions, PCP exaggerated protein synthesis–dependent DHPG-induced mGluR1/5-stimulated long-term synaptic depression. Pretreatment with anisomycin or the mGluR1/5 antagonist MPEP, both of which repress translation, prevented PCP-induced discoordination and the cognitive and sensorimotor impairments. PCP as well as the NR2A-containing NMDAR antagonist NVP-AAM077 unbalanced translation that engages the Akt, mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin), and 4EBP1 translation machinery and increased protein synthesis, whereas the NR2B-containing antagonist Ro25-6981 did not. Conclusions: PCP dysregulates translation, acting through NR2A-containing NMDAR subtypes, recruiting mGluR1/5 signaling pathways, and leading to neural discoordination that is central to the cognitive and sensorimotor impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-263
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Psychiatry Global Open Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Cognitive coordination
  • NR2A
  • Neural discoordination
  • Protein synthesis
  • Translation machinery
  • mGluR1/5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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