It has been suggested that psychophysiological measures of sensory and sensorimotor gating, P50 gating and prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI), underlie core features of schizophrenia and are linked to dopaminergic pathways in the striatum and prefrontal cortex. In the present study, the effects of a potent D2/D3 receptor antagonist, amisulpride, were investigated on PPI and P50 gating in a large sample of antipsychotic-naive, first-episode patients with schizophrenia. A total of 52 initially antipsychotic-naive, first-episode schizophrenia patients were assessed for their P50 gating, PPI, and habituation/sensitization abilities at baseline and after 2 and 6 weeks of treatment with flexible doses of amisulpride. In addition, 47 matched healthy controls were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks. At baseline, the patients showed significantly reduced PPI, yet normal levels of P50 gating, habituation, and sensitization. Treatment with amisulpride showed no effects on these measures, either at 2 or 6 weeks of follow-up. This is the first study investigating the effects of monotherapy with a relatively selective dopamine D2/D3 receptor antagonist (amisulpride) on sensory and sensorimotor gating deficits in a longitudinal study of a large group of initially antipsychotic-naive, first-episode patients with schizophrenia. Our finding that amisulpride effectively reduced symptom severity in our patients without reducing their PPI deficits indicates that increased activity of dopamine D2 receptors may be involved in symptomatology of patients with schizophrenia, but not in their sensorimotor gating deficits.
Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2014, Vol 39, Issue 13, p. 3000-3008