Behavioural pharmacology of the α5-GABAA receptor antagonist S44819: Enhancement and remediation of cognitive performance in preclinical models

István Gacsályi, Krisztina Móricz, Gábor Gigler, János Wellmann, Katalin Nagy, István Ling, József Barkóczy, József Haller, Jeremy J. Lambert, Gábor Szénási, Michael Spedding, Ferenc A. Antoni (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    Previous work has shown that S44819 is a novel GABAA receptor (GABAAR) antagonist, which is selective for extrasynaptic GABAARs incorporating the α5 subunit (α5-GABAARs). The present study reports on the preclinical neuropsychopharmacological profile of S44819. Significantly, no sedative or pro-convulsive side effects of S44819 were found at doses up to 30 mg/kg i.p. Object recognition (OR) memory in intact mice was enhanced by S44819 (0.3 mg/kg p.o.) given before the acquisition trial. Mice treated with phencyclidine for two weeks and tested six days after the cessation of treatment failed to show OR memory. This deficit was corrected by a single administration of S44819 (0.1, 0.3 or 1 mg/kg p.o.) prior to the acquisition trial. The amnestic effect of ketamine in rats tested in the eight-arm radial maze (reference and working memory versions) was blocked by S44819 (3 mg/kg p.o.). Extinction of cued fear was preserved during treatment with S44819 (3 mg/kg/diem i.p.). Administration of S44819 had no significant effect in the Vogel-conflict test, the elevated plus maze, the forced swim, the marble-burying and the tail-suspension tests. In contrast, anxiolytic/antidepressant-like effects of the compound were found in paradigms that have mnemonic components, such as social interaction, fear-potentiated startle and social avoidance induced by negative life experience. In summary, S44819 enhanced intact recognition memory and ameliorated memory deficits induced by inhibition of NMDA receptors. Anxiolytic/antidepressant efficacy was limited to paradigms involving cognitive function. In conclusion, S44819 is a novel psychoactive pro-cognitive compound with potential as a therapeutic agent in dementia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-38
    Number of pages9
    Early online date8 Jul 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


    • GABAA receptors
    • Cognitive performance
    • Behavioural pharmacology
    • S44819
    • Alpha5-GABAA antagonists


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