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Synapse. 2008 Nov;62(11):804-18. doi: 10.1002/syn.20548.

Aripiprazole and its human metabolite OPC14857 reduce, through a presynaptic mechanism, glutamate release in rat prefrontal cortex: possible relevance to neuroprotective interventions in schizophrenia.

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School of Medicine, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei Hsien, Taiwan.


Aripiprazole is a novel atypical antipsychotic drug with neuroprotective properties. As excessive glutamate release is now considered to be part of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, the objective of this study was to use an in vitro assay system to investigate the effect of aripiprazole and its human metabolite OPC14857 on the release of endogenous glutamate from isolated nerve terminals (synaptosomes), freshly prepared from rat prefrontal cortex. Both aripiprazole and OPC13857 potently inhibited 4-aminopyridine (4-AP)-evoked glutamate release in a concentration-dependent manner. Inhibition of glutamate release by aripiprazole and OPC13857 was associated with a reduction of 4AP-evoked Na+ influx and depolarization, as well as downstream elevation of cytoplasmic free calcium concentration mediated via N- and P/Q-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCCs). Release induced by direct Ca2+ entry with Ca2+ ionophore (ionomycin) was unaffected by aripiprazole or OPC13857, indicating that the inhibitory effect of aripiprazole or OPC13857 is not due to directly interfering with the release process at some point subsequent to Ca2+ influx. In addition, the dopamine D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol and the 5-HT 1A receptor antagonist WAY100635 all effectively blocked the aripiprazole or OPC13857-mediated inhibition of 4-AP-evoked glutamate release. Moreover, aripiprazole or OPC13857 modulation of 4-AP-evoked glutamate release appears to involve a protein kinase A (PKA) signaling cascade, insofar as pretreatment of synaptosomes with the PKA inhibitor H89 suppressed the inhibitory effect of aripiprazole or OPC13857. Together, these results suggest that aripiprazole and its human metabolite OPC14857 inhibit glutamate release from rat prefrontocortical nerve terminals, likely by the activation of dopamine D2 and 5-HT 1A receptors, which subsequently results in the reduction of nerve terminal excitability and downstream VDCC activation through a signaling cascade involving PKA. These actions of aripiprazole may contribute to its neuroprotective effect in excitotoxic injury.

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