There has been a sharp worldwide increase during the last decade in antipsychotic treatment among paediatric patients, with antipsychotic drugs reported to have been prescribed to children as young as 2 years of age. Antipsychotic drugs (APDs) have been prescribed not only to treat childhood onset schizophrenia, but are also widely used (mostly “off-label”) in paediatric patients to treat bipolar disorder, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s disorder, anxiety disorder, and hemiplegia.

The broad aim of this project is to evaluate the epigenetic mechanisms of early APDs exposure on brain development. In a rat model, followed early APDs treatment, the brain nuclei including the dorsal striatum, nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex will be dissected following our standard procedures. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay will be used to examine histone modifications (particularly at H3K9). DNA methylation, particularly the methyl cytosine locations in the promoter regions of PPARg and PPARa, will be detected. In addition, the epigenetic mechanisms of early APD treatment will also be examined. It is expected that epigenetic mechanisms play key roles in the long-term effect of early APDs exposure during childhood-adolescence.

Funding body

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute

Scheme name

Career Development Grant

Years funded


Lead institution

University of Wollongong

Project leaders