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J Psychopharmacol. 2001 Mar;15(1):37-46.

The 5-HT1A receptor in schizophrenia: a promising target for novel atypical neuroleptics?

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  • 1MRC Cyclotron Unit, The Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK. alexander.bantick@ic.ac.uk


Increasing attention is being directed towards the role of the serotonergic system in the neurochemistry of schizophrenia and antipsychotic drug treatment. This review considers the 5-HT1A receptor in this context. In patients with schizophrenia, the majority of post-mortem studies have reported increases in 5-HT1A receptor density in the prefrontal cortex in the approximate range 15-80%. Although the pathophysiological significance of this finding is unclear, given the location of a major proportion of these receptors on pyramidal cells, it may reflect an abnormal glutamatergic network. In terms of drug treatment, 5-HT1A agonists clearly display anticataleptic activity in rats. In addition, 5-HT1A agonists consistently increase dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex in rodents, which is an effect that might be predicted to improve negative symptoms. 5-HT1A agonists augment classical neuroleptics in some rat models of antipsychotic action and may be capable of modulating the glutamatergic network therapeutically. Despite the encouraging preclinical data, there is a paucity of clinical studies of 5-HT1A agonist augmentation of neuroleptics in the treatment of schizophrenia. However, the clinical relevance may be clarified by the atypical antipsychotic drugs clozapine, quetiapine and ziprasidone which combine D2 receptor antagonism and 5-HT1A agonism. In conclusion, given the increased prefrontal 5-HT1A receptor density in the illness, and the anticataleptic activity of 5-HT1A agonists combined with their ability to evoke prefrontal dopamine release, there is now a sufficient rationale to examine thoroughly the role of the 5-HT1A receptor in schizophrenia and antipsychotic drug treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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