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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1999 Nov;21(5):622-31.

Comparison of the novel antipsychotic ziprasidone with clozapine and olanzapine: inhibition of dorsal raphe cell firing and the role of 5-HT1A receptor activation.

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Department of Neuroscience, Pfizer Inc., Groton, CT 06340, USA.


Ziprasidone is a novel antipsychotic agent which binds with high affinity to 5-HT1A receptors (Ki = 3.4 nM), in addition to 5-HT1D, 5-HT2, and D2 sites. While it is an antagonist at these latter receptors, ziprasidone behaves as a 5-HT1A agonist in vitro in adenylate cyclase measurements. The goal of the present study was to examine the 5-HT1A properties of ziprasidone in vivo using as a marker of central 5-HT1A activity the inhibition of firing of serotonin-containing neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus. In anesthetized rats, ziprasidone dose-dependently slowed raphe unit activity (ED50 = 300 micrograms/kg i.v.) as did the atypical antipsychotics clozapine (ED50 = 250 micrograms/kg i.v.) and olanzapine (ED50 = 1000 micrograms/kg i.v.). Pretreatment with the 5-HT1A antagonist WAY-100,635 (10 micrograms/kg i.v.) prevented the ziprasidone-induced inhibition; the same dose of WAY-100,635 had little effect on the inhibition produced by clozapine and olanzapine. Because all three agents also bind to alpha 1 receptors, antagonists of which inhibit serotonin neuronal firing, this aspect of their pharmacology was assessed with desipramine (DMI), a NE re-uptake blocker previously shown to reverse the effects of alpha 1 antagonists on raphe unit activity. DMI (5 mg/kg i.v.) failed to reverse the inhibitory effect of ziprasidone but produced nearly complete reversal of that of clozapine and olanzapine. These profiles suggest a mechanism of action for each agent, 5-HT1A agonism for ziprasidone and alpha 1 antagonism for clozapine and olanzapine. The 5-HT1A agonist activity reported here clearly distinguishes ziprasidone from currently available antipsychotic agents and suggests that this property may play a significant role in its pharmacologic actions.

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