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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2000 Sep;2(3):281-6.

Treatment mechanisms: traditional and new antipsychotic drugs.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md, USA.


The first generation of antipsychotic drugs was discovered in the 1960s and 1970s, These agents were effective in treating psychosis, but were accompanied by significant side effects, including severe parkinsonism and akathisia. Second-generation antipsychotics were introduced in the 1990s, These drugs have at least equal efficacy to their predecessors, but far fewer side effects. Some data suggest a broader efficacy profile. Clozapine remains the only superior antipsychotic in terms of the magnitude of psychotic symptom reduction. Clinical and animal studies are consistent in suggesting that the antipsychotic component of antidopaminergic treatments is initiated by dopamine receptor blockade in the striatum and that the signal is transmitted to the neocortex through the established basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical neuronal circuits. Other neurotransmitter actions (eg, antiserotonergic) can be exerted locally, in the neocortex. Defining tissue targets of drug action may suggest additional strategies for developing new antipsychotic drugs.


basal ganglia; dopamine receptor; new antipsychotic drug; schizophrenia; thalamus; therapeutics

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