Dose-dependent effects of buspirone on behavior and cerebral glucose metabolism in rats

Ulderico Freo, Pietro Pietrini, Gilberto Pizzolato, Maura Furey-Kurkjian, Antonio Merico, Susanna Ruggero, Mauro Dam, Leontino Battistin

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In this study we compared the effects of the anxiolytic buspirone on behavior and regional cerebral metabolic rates for glucose (rCMRglc) with those of the reference serotonin (5-HT)1A agonist 8-hydroxy-2(di-N-propylamino)tetralin (DPAT). Behavioral effects were assessed by scoring the 5-HT syndrome. rCMRglc was measured in 56 brain regions by using the quantitative autoradiographic [14C]2-deoxyglucose technique, at 10 min after i.p. injection of DPAT (1 mg/kg) or buspirone (0.4, 4 and 40 mg/kg) in awake male Fischer-344 rats. Whereas DPAT produced an intense 5-HT syndrome, buspirone had no behavioral effect. A low dose (0.4 mg/kg) of buspirone reduced rCMRglc in 18 brain areas (32%), more markedly in limbic areas and raphe nuclei. These were the only rCMRglc effects buspirone had in common with the potent 5-HT1A agonist DPAT and suggest that low dose buspirone activates preferentially 5-HT1A receptors. Hence, this receptor subtype may mediate buspirone functional effects on the limbic system and, given the role of these brain areas in mood control, possibly buspirone therapeutic actions. High doses (4 and 40 mg/kg) of buspirone produced widespread rCMRglc decreases in 46 (82%) and 44 (79%) of the areas studied and increased rCMRglc in one brain area, the lateral habenula, that was not affected by DPAT or a low dose of buspirone. The topographic distribution and direction of rCMRglc changes by high doses of buspirone differ from those produced by the 5-HT1A agonist DPAT. Instead these changes resemble the rCMRglc effects of dopaminergic D2 antagonists like haloperidol and are consistent with some pharmacological and binding properties of buspirone. In summary, this study suggests that buspirone produces dual, dose-dependent rCMRglc effects: (i) at a low dose rCMRglc reductions in limbic areas and raphe nuclei, probably due to preferential activation of 5-HT1A receptors, and (ii) at higher doses widespread rCMRglc reductions along with a rCMRglc increase in the lateral habenula resulting from dopamine D2 receptor blockade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-220
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 24 1995


  • Anxiolytic
  • Buspirone
  • DPAT
  • rCMRglc
  • Serotonin 5-HT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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