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Mol Pharmacol. 1990 Feb;37(2):231-7.

Receptor reserve for 5-hydroxytryptamine1A-mediated inhibition of serotonin synthesis: possible relationship to anxiolytic properties of 5-hydroxytryptamine1A agonists.

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  • 1Millhauser Laboratories, Department of Psychiatry, New York University Medical Center, New York 10016.


The irreversible receptor antagonist N-ethoxycarbonyl-2-ethoxy-1,2-dihydroquinoline (EEDQ) was used to determine the relationship between receptor occupancy and response at central 5-hydroxytryptamine1A (5-HT1A) serotonin receptors mediating the inhibition of serotonin synthesis in rat cortex and hippocampus. Rats were treated with vehicle or EEDQ (2 or 6 mg/kg) and 24 hr later dose-response curves were constructed for inhibition of 5-hydroxytrytophan (5-HTP) accumulation (after decarboxylase inhibition with NSD-1015) by the selective 5-HT1A agonists 8-hydroxy-2(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) (0.01-3 mg/kg), buspirone (0.1-7.5 mg/kg), and ipsapirone (0.1-6.25 mg/kg) and the 5-HT1A agonist/antagonist BMY 7378 (0.015-5 mg/kg). In vehicle-pretreated rats, a similar maximal inhibition of 5-HT synthesis (range, 52-59%) was observed in both brain areas with 8-OH-DPAT, buspirone, and ipsapirone. These three agonists were also more potent in reducing 5-HTP accumulation in the cortex than in the hippocampus (ED50, 8-OH-DPAT, 14 and 30 microgram/kg; buspirone, 0.42 and 0.63 mg/kg; ipsapirone, 0.44 and 1.26 mg/kg, respectively). In the cortex, EEDQ treatment shifted the dose-response curves for 8-OH-DPAT, buspirone, and ipsapirone 8.6-, 2.0-, and 2.8-fold to the right, respectively. Corresponding rightward shifts in the hippocampus were smaller, 6.0-, 1.6-, and 2.1-fold, respectively. The EEDQ-induced shifts in the dose-response curves were accompanied by reductions in maximal response. In contrast, whereas the maximal inhibition of cortical 5-HTP accumulation by BMY 7378 (55%) was similar to that obtained with the agonists, maximal response in the hippocampus was much smaller (32%). Furthermore, in both brain regions EEDQ reduced the maximal response to BMY 7378 without shifting the dose-response curves. Analysis of the data by the double-reciprocal method of Furchgott, followed by calculation of fractional receptor occupancy for each dose of agonist, revealed a nonlinear relationship between receptor occupancy and response for 8-OH-DPAT, buspirone, and ipsapirone in both brain regions, demonstrating the presence of a large receptor reserve. For BMY 7378, in contrast, linear relationships were obtained. Because 5-HT1A receptor-mediated regulation of 5-HT synthesis appears to be mediated by somatodendritic autoreceptors on 5-HT neurons in the midbrain raphé nuclei, the results suggest that these autoreceptors possess a large receptor reserve for agonists. The relevance of these findings for the mechanism of action of nonbenzodiazepine anxiolytics is discussed.

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