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Behav Pharmacol. 2011 Sep;22(5-6):531-9. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328349aace.

Multiple dopamine receptors mediate the discriminative stimulus effects of dihydrexidine in rats.

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Psychiatric Disease Group, Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, Indiana 46285-0510, USA.


The dopamine D(1) receptor agonist dihydrexidine (DHX) [(±)-trans-10,11-dihydroxy-5,6,6a,7,8,12b-hexahydrobenzo[a] phenanthridine hydrochloride] has shown efficacy in animal models of Parkinson's disease and improved cerebral blood flow and working memory of schizophrenic patients. Although the discriminative stimulus effects of DHX, an in-vivo predictor of human subjective effect profile, have only been characterized with respect to activity at D(1) receptors, DHX also has significant affinity for D(2) receptors. This study was designed to characterize the role of D(1) and D(2)/D(3) receptors in mediating the discriminative stimulus effects of DHX. Rats were trained to discriminate DHX [3 mg/kg, intraperitoneally (i.p.)] from the vehicle. The selective dopamine D(1) receptor partial agonist SKF 38393 was fully substituted for DHX. The D(1) receptor antagonist SCH 23390 (0.1 mg/kg, s.c.) and the D(3)-selective antagonist U99194 (10 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly attenuated the discriminative stimulus effects of the training dose of DHX by 80 and 60%, respectively, suggesting that both D(1) and D(3) receptors mediate the discriminative stimulus effects of DHX. In contrast, raclopride (1 mg/kg, i.p.) did not significantly alter the discriminative stimulus effects of DHX, indicating a lack of D(2)-mediated effects. The D(2)/D(3) receptor preferring agonists, quinpirole and (+)-PD 128907 were fully substituted, whereas (+)-7-OH-DPAT was partially substituted for DHX. The DHX bound to D(2) receptors with a Ki of 4.3+0.7 nmol/l was compared with 33.7+4.6 nmol/l at D(3) receptors. Determinations of activity at second messenger systems revealed that DHX functioned as a full agonist at D(3) receptors and a partial agonist at D(2) receptors in vitro. These activities at D(2)/D(3) receptors have shown effects in some preclinical models and clinical disease states. Therefore, the prominent in-vivo agonist activity of DHX at both D(1) receptors and D(2)/D(3) receptors should be considered while making predictions of effects in humans.

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