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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013 Jan 16;4(1):110-21. doi: 10.1021/cn300072u. Epub 2012 Aug 11.

Synergism between a serotonin 5-HT2A receptor (5-HT2AR) antagonist and 5-HT2CR agonist suggests new pharmacotherapeutics for cocaine addiction.

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Center for Addiction Research, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, United States.


Relapse to cocaine dependence, even after extended abstinence, involves a number of liability factors including impulsivity (predisposition toward rapid, unplanned reactions to stimuli without regard to negative consequences) and cue reactivity (sensitivity to cues associated with cocaine-taking which can promote cocaine-seeking). These factors have been mechanistically linked to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) signaling through the 5-HT(2A) receptor (5-HT(2A)R) and 5-HT(2C)R; either a selective 5-HT(2A)R antagonist or a 5-HT(2C)R agonist suppresses impulsivity and cocaine-seeking in preclinical models. We conducted proof-of-concept analyses to evaluate whether a combination of 5-HT(2A)R antagonist plus 5-HT(2C)R agonist would have synergistic effects over these liability factors for relapse as measured in a 1-choice serial reaction time task and cocaine self-administration/reinstatement assay. Combined administration of a dose of the selective 5-HT(2A)R antagonist M100907 plus the 5-HT(2C)R agonist WAY163909, each ineffective alone, synergistically suppressed cocaine-induced hyperactivity, inherent and cocaine-evoked impulsive action, as well as cue- and cocaine-primed reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. The identification of synergism between a 5-HT(2A)R antagonist plus a 5-HT(2C)R agonist to attenuate these factors important in relapse indicates the promise of a bifunctional ligand as an anti-addiction pharmacotherapeutic, setting the stage to develop new ligands with improved efficacy, potency, selectivity, and in vivo profiles over the individual molecules.

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