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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Mar;19(3):177-87. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Dec 29.

Electrophysiological characterization of the effects of asenapine at 5-HT(1A), 5-HT(2A), alpha(2)-adrenergic and D(2) receptors in the rat brain.

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University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, 1145 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1Z7K4, Canada.


Asenapine is a psychopharmacologic agent being developed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This study electrophysiologically characterized the in vivo effects of asenapine at dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) and hippocampus serotonin-1A (5-HT(1A)), ventral tegmental area D(2), locus coeruleus 5-HT(2A,) and alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors in anesthetized rats. Asenapine displayed potent antagonistic activity at alpha(2)-adrenoceptors (ED(50), 85+/-2 microg/kg), 5-HT(2A) (ED(50), 75+/-2 microg/kg) and D(2) receptors (ED(50), 40+/-2 microg/kg) as evidenced by its reversal of clonidine-, DOI-, and apomorphine-induced inhibition of norepinephrine and dopamine neurons. In contrast, asenapine acted as a partial agonist at 5-HT(1A) receptors in DRN and hippocampus, as indicated by blockade of its inhibitory effect on neuronal firing by the 5-HT(1A) antagonist WAY 100635 and the partial inhibition of the suppressant action of 5-HT when co-applied by microiontophoresis. These results confirm that asenapine displays potent antagonistic activity at 5-HT(2A), D(2), alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors and provide evidence to support its 5-HT(1A) partial agonistic activity.

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