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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Feb;36(3):638-51. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.195. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

The presynaptic component of the serotonergic system is required for clozapine's efficacy.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA.


Clozapine, by virtue of its absence of extrapyramidal side effects and greater efficacy, revolutionized the treatment of schizophrenia, although the mechanisms underlying this exceptional activity remain controversial. Combining an unbiased cheminformatics and physical screening approach, we evaluated clozapine's activity at >2350 distinct molecular targets. Clozapine, and the closely related atypical antipsychotic drug olanzapine, interacted potently with a unique spectrum of molecular targets. This distinct pattern, which was not shared with the typical antipsychotic drug haloperidol, suggested that the serotonergic neuronal system was a key determinant of clozapine's actions. To test this hypothesis, we used pet1(-/-) mice, which are deficient in serotonergic presynaptic markers. We discovered that the antipsychotic-like properties of the atypical antipsychotic drugs clozapine and olanzapine were abolished in a pharmacological model that mimics NMDA-receptor hypofunction in pet1(-/-) mice, whereas haloperidol's efficacy was unaffected. These results show that clozapine's ability to normalize NMDA-receptor hypofunction, which is characteristic of schizophrenia, depends on an intact presynaptic serotonergic neuronal system.

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