One-day tropisetron treatment improves cognitive deficits and P50 inhibition deficits in schizophrenia


The core features of schizophrenia (SCZ) include cognitive deficits and impaired sensory gating represented by P50 inhibition deficits, which appear to be related to the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). An agonist of nAChR receptor may improve these defects. This study aimed to investigate how administering multiple doses of tropisetron, a partial agonist of nAChR, for 1 day would affect cognitive deficits and P50 inhibition deficits in SCZ patients. We randomized 40 SCZ non-smokers into a double-blind clinical trial with four groups: placebo, 5 mg/d, 10 mg/d, and 20 mg/d of oral tropisetron. Their P50 ratios were all more than 0.5 and they took risperidone at 3–6 mg/day for at least a month before participating in the experiment. We measured the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and P50 inhibition before and one day after treatment. After one day of treatment, the total RBANS scores of the 20 mg and 5 mg tropisetron groups, and the immediate memory of the 10 mg group were significantly higher than placebo group. The P50 ratio was smaller in the 5 mg and 10 mg groups than in the placebo group (both p < 0.05) after treatment. Furthermore, the improvement in RBANS total score was correlated with increased S1 latency (p < 0.05), and the increase in immediate memory score was correlated with decreased S2 amplitude. One day of treatment with tropisetron improved both cognitive and P50 inhibition deficits, suggesting that longer term treatment with α7 nAChR agonists for these deficits in SCZ may be promising.

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Fig. 1: Association between the improvement in the total score of RBANS and the change in the latency of S1 after treatment.
Fig. 2: Changes in P50 Gating Ratio in Patients With Schizophrenia After 1-Day Treatment With Tropisetron or Placeboa.


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Author information




LX and XYZ performed analysis, made interpretation of data and drafted the manuscript. LL and XH made contributions to the acquisition of clinical and P50 data for the work. DW, GW, JW, HZ, HX, YT, QD, and LW helped draft the work and revise it critically. HEW, CC, and TRK helped to interpret the data and revised the paper significantly. All authors made significant contributions to the paper to assess the important intellectual content, read and approved the paper.

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Correspondence to Xiang Yang Zhang.

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Xia, L., Liu, L., Hong, X. et al. One-day tropisetron treatment improves cognitive deficits and P50 inhibition deficits in schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacol. 45, 1362–1368 (2020).

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