GABA(B)-mediated rescue of altered excitatory-inhibitory balance, gamma synchrony and behavioral deficits following constituative NMDAR-hypofunction

Gandal MJ, Sisti J, Klook K, Ortinski PI, Leitman V, Liang Y, Thieu T, Anderson R, Pierce RC, Jonak G, Gur RE, Carlson G, Siegel SJ

Translational Psychiatry, 2:e142

Reduced N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor (NMDAR) signaling has been associated with schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. NMDAR-hypofunction is thought to contribute to social, cognitive and gamma (30-80 Hz) oscillatory abnormalities, phenotypes common to these disorders. However, circuit-level mechanisms underlying such deficits remain unclear. This study investigated the relationship between gamma synchrony, excitatory-inhibitory (E/I) signaling, and behavioral phenotypes in NMDA-NR1(neo-/-) mice, which have constitutively reduced expression of the obligate NR1 subunit to model disrupted developmental NMDAR function. Constitutive NMDAR-hypofunction caused a loss of E/I balance, with an increase in intrinsic pyramidal cell excitability and a selective disruption of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons. Disrupted E/I coupling was associated with deficits in auditory-evoked gamma signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Gamma-band abnormalities predicted deficits in spatial working memory and social preference, linking cellular changes in E/I signaling to target behaviors. The GABA(B)-receptor agonist baclofen improved E/I balance, gamma-SNR and broadly reversed behavioral deficits. These data demonstrate a clinically relevant, highly translatable neural-activity-based biomarker for preclinical screening and therapeutic development across a broad range of disorders that share common endophenotypes and disrupted NMDA-receptor signaling.