Understanding the effects of antipsychotic drugs (APDs) on social behaviors such as maternal behavior is valuable for understanding the complete spectrum of therapeutic and side-effects of antipsychotics. Although previous studies have suggested that typical antipsychotics impair maternal behavior, the effects of the atypical antipsychotics have not been systematically explored. The purpose of the present report was to examine the effects of typical (haloperidol, HAL) and several atypical (clozapine, CLZ; risperidone, RIS; quetiapine, QUE) antipsychotics on maternal behavior in female rats. Maternal behaviors were examined repeatedly over a period of 24 h after a single injection of a range of doses of HAL, CLZ, RIS or QUE on Day 6 postpartum. All antipsychotic drugs, typical or atypical, elicited a qualitatively similar disruptive effect on the active components of maternal behavior such as pup approach, pup retrieval and nest building at clinically relevant doses. However, HAL caused a prolonged disruption, whereas CLZ, RIS and QUE induced an early onset but shorter duration disruption. In addition, only the atypical antipsychotics showed some inhibitory effects on nursing behavior, possibly due to sedative side-effects shared by all atypical antipsychotics. The current generation of atypical antipsychotics shows a disruptive influence on maternal behavior similar to that of the typical antipsychotics. This effect may be intrinsic to antipsychotic activity or may be reflective of a side-effect. Since the latter is more likely, this may be an effect to avoid in the design of future antipsychotics.
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