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J Psychopharmacol. 2005 Nov;19(6):609-13.

The use of sleep measures to compare a new 5HT1A agonist with buspirone in humans.

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  • 1Psychopharmacology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


The partial agonist buspirone has a REM (rapid eye movement) suppressing effect on human sleep probably via a 5HT(1A) receptor in the pontine area. Eptapirone is a new 5HT(1A) agonist with a greater intrinsic effect than buspirone. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of eptapirone on sleep architecture, particularly REM sleep, in normal volunteers and compare it with buspirone and placebo. This was a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled four-way crossover study in 12 healthy volunteers. Volunteers were screened to ensure that they had normal overnight sleep EEG (electroencephalogram) and were extensive CYP 2D6 metabolizers. Sleep was recorded on pairs of nights on four occasions, with medication being taken before the second night. Treatments were eptapirone 1.5mg at 10 AM, eptapirone 1.5mg at 11 PM, buspirone 20mg at 11 PM and placebo. Standard measures of sleep were derived and compared among the four treatments using ANOVA. REM sleep was significantly suppressed supporting the proposition that activation of post-synaptic 5HT(1A) receptors reduces REM sleep. Sleep fragmentation increased by both drugs. REM sleep suppression was significantly greater with morning eptapirone than with buspirone. Wakefulness in sleep was significantly greatest after morning eptapirone. REM sleep effects were greatest after evening eptapirone, suggesting a greater effect on central serotonin receptors than that of buspirone.

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