The onset of schizophrenia is associated with both genetic and environmental risks during brain development. Environmental factors during pregnancy can represent risk factors for schizophrenia, and we have previously reported that several microRNA and mRNA expression changes in fetal brains exposed to haloperidol during pregnancy may be related to the onset of this disease. This study aimed to replicate that research and focused on apoptotic-related gene expression changes.
Haloperidol (1mg/kg) or aripiprazole (1mg/kg) was injected into pregnant mice. Using RNA sequencing for the hippocampus of each offspring born from pregnant mice exposed to haloperidol, we analyzed genes identified as changed in our previous report and validated two apoptosis-related genes (Cdkn1a and Apaf1) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods. Furthermore, we attempted to elucidate the direct effects of haloperidol and aripiprazole on those mRNA expressions in in vitro experiments.
RNA sequencing successfully replicated 16 up-regulated and 5 down-regulated genes in this study. Of those, up-regulations of Cdkn1a and Apaf1 mRNA expression were successfully validated by direct quantification. Moreover, haloperidol and aripiprazole dose-dependent upregulation of both mRNA expressions were confirmed in a Neuro2a cell line.
In the hippocampus of offspring, intraperitoneal injection of haloperidol to pregnant mice induced up-regulation of apoptotic genes that representing the phenotypic change without apoptosis. These findings will be useful for understanding the molecular biological mechanisms underlying the effects of antipsychotics on the fetal brain.

Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Inc.