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Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jul;115(1):116-47. Epub 2007 May 13.

Metabotropic glutamate receptor ligands as possible anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Smetna 12, 31-343 Krak√≥w, Poland.


Depression and anxiety represent a major problem. However, the current treatment of both groups of diseases is not satisfactory. As the glutamatergic system may play an important role in pathophysiology of both depression and anxiety, we decided to discuss the recent data on possible anxiolytic and/or antidepressant effects of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor ligands. Preclinical data indicated that antagonists of group I mGlu receptors, particularly antagonists of mGlu5 receptors, produced both anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effects. Clinical data also demonstrated that mGlu5 receptor antagonist, fenobam, was an active anxiolytic drug. The anxiolytic effects exerted by mGlu5 receptor antagonists are profound, comparable with or stronger than those of benzodiazepines. However, the problem with the psychotomimetic activity of mGlu5 receptor antagonists and their possible influence on memory has to be further investigated. Among all mGlu receptor ligands, group II mGlu receptor agonists seem to be the drugs with the most promising therapeutic potential and a good safety profile. Animal studies showed anxiolytic-like effects of group II mGlu receptor agonists. Currently, group II mGlu receptor agonists are in phase III clinical trials for potential treatment of anxiety disorders. On the other hand, data has been accumulated, indicating that antagonists of group II mGlu receptors have an antidepressant potential. Group III mGlu receptor ligands represent the least investigated group of mGlu receptors. However, preclinical data also indicates that ligands of these receptors, both agonists and antagonists, may have an anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like potential.

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