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Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 1999;(37):36-40.

Olanzapine: a basic science update.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Division, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN, USA.


Olanzapine, an atypical antipsychotic, has a broad receptor binding profile, which may account for its pharmacological effects in schizophrenia. In vitro receptor binding studies showed a high affinity for dopamine D2, D3, and D4 receptors; all 5-HT2 receptor subtypes and the 5-HT6 receptor; muscarinic receptors, especially the M1 subtype: and alpha 1-adrenergic receptors. In vivo studies showed that olanzapine had potent activity at D2 and 5-HT2A receptors, but much less activity at D1 and muscarinic receptors, and that it inhibited dopaminergic neurons in the A10 but not the A9 tract, suggesting that this agent will not cause extrapyramidal side-effects (EPS). Microdialysis studies showed that olanzapine increased the extracellular levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, but not 5-HT, in the prefrontal cortex, and increased extracellular dopamine levels in the neostriatum and nucleus accumbens, areas of the brain associated with schizophrenia. Studies of gene expression showed that olanzapine 10 mg/kg also increased Fos expression in the prefrontal cortex, the dorsolateral striatum, and the nucleus accumbens. These findings are consistent with the effectiveness of olanzapine on both negative and positive symptoms and suggest that, with careful dosing, olanzapine should not cause EPS.

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