There are no effective therapeutics for cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia (CIAS), which includes deficits in executive functions (working memory and cognitive flexibility) and episodic memory. Compounds that have entered clinical trials are inadequate in terms of efficacy and/or tolerability, highlighting a clear translational bottleneck and a need for a cohesive preclinical drug development strategy. In this review we propose hippocampal-prefrontal-cortical (HPC-PFC) circuitry underlying CIAS-relevant cognitive processes across mammalian species as a target source to guide the translation-focused discovery and development of novel, procognitive agents. We highlight several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) enriched within HPC-PFC circuitry as therapeutic targets of interest, including noncanonical approaches (biased agonism and allosteric modulation) to conventional clinical targets, such as dopamine and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, along with prospective novel targets, including the orphan receptors GPR52 and GPR139. We also describe the translational limitations of popular preclinical cognition tests and suggest touchscreen-based assays that probe cognitive functions reliant on HPC-PFC circuitry and reflect tests used in the clinic, as tests of greater translational relevance. Combining pharmacological and behavioral testing strategies based in HPC-PFC circuit function creates a cohesive, translationfocused approach to preclinical drug development that may improve the translational bottleneck currently hindering the development of treatments for CIAS.
- Cognitive impairment
- Drug discovery
- Hippocampal-prefrontal cortical circuitry
- Rodent touchscreen