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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Jun;337(3):673-80. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.179572. Epub 2011 Mar 14.

Characterization of vabicaserin (SCA-136), a selective 5-hydroxytryptamine 2C receptor agonist.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Unit, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Eastern Point Road, MS8220-4220, Groton, CT 06340, USA. john.dunlop@pfizer.com


The 5-hydroxytryptamine 2C (5-HT(2C)) receptor subtype has received considerable attention as a target for drug discovery, having been implicated in a wide variety of disorders. Here, we describe the in vitro pharmacological profile of the novel 5-HT(2C) receptor-selective agonist vabicaserin [(-)-4,5,6,7,9,9a,10,11,12,12a-decahydrocyclopenta[c] [1,4]diazepino[6,7,1-ij]quinoline hydrochloride] (SCA-136), including a comprehensive strategy to assess 5-HT(2B) receptor selectivity using diverse preparations and assays of receptor activation. Vabicaserin displaced (125)I-(2,5-dimethoxy)phenylisopropylamine binding from human 5-HT(2C) receptor sites in Chinese hamster ovary cell membranes with a K(i) value of 3 nM and was >50-fold selective over a number of serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic receptors. Binding affinity determined for the human 5-HT(2B) receptor subtype using [(3)H]5HT was 14 nM. Vabicaserin was a potent and full agonist (EC(50), 8 nM; E(max), 100%) in stimulating 5-HT(2C) receptor-coupled calcium mobilization and exhibited 5-HT(2A) receptor antagonism and 5-HT(2B) antagonist or partial agonist activity in transfected cells, depending on the level of receptor expression. In rat stomach fundus and human colonic longitudinal muscle endogenously expressing 5-HT(2B) receptors, vabicaserin failed to induce a 5-HT(2B) receptor-dependent contraction and produced a rightward shift of the 5-HT and α-methyl-5-HT concentration-response curves in these preparations, respectively, consistent with 5-HT(2B) competitive antagonism. Likewise, vabicaserin failed to induce a 5-HT(2B) receptor-mediated contraction in arteries from deoxycorticosterone acetate-salt-treated rats, a model of hypersensitized 5-HT(2B) receptor function, and produced a rightward shift in the 5-HT-induced response that was consistent with 5-HT(2B) receptor antagonism. In summary, vabicaserin is a novel, potent, and selective 5-HT(2C) receptor agonist.

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