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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1997 Jan;280(1):83-97.

Neurochemical characteristics of amisulpride, an atypical dopamine D2/D3 receptor antagonist with both presynaptic and limbic selectivity.

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Synthélabo Recherche, CNS Research Department, Bagneux, France.


The benzamide derivative amisulpride shows a unique therapeutic profile being antipsychotic, at high doses, and disinhibitory, at low doses, while giving rise to only a low incidence of extrapyramidal side effects. In vitro, amisulpride has high affinity and selectivity for the human dopamine D2 (Ki = 2.8 nM) and D3 (Ki = 3.2 nM) receptors. Amisulpride shows antagonist properties toward D3 and both pre- and postsynaptic D2-like dopamine receptors of the rat striatum or nucleus accumbens in vitro. At low doses (< or = 10 mg/kg) amisulpride preferentially blocks presynaptic dopamine autoreceptors that control dopamine synthesis and release in the rat, whereas at higher doses (40-80 mg/kg) postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptor occupancy and antagonism is apparent. In contrast, haloperidol is active in all of these paradigms within the same dose range. Amisulpride preferentially inhibits in vivo binding of the D2/D3 antagonist [3H]raclopride to the limbic system (ID50 = 17 mg/kg) in comparison to the striatum (ID50 = 44 mg/kg) of the rat, increases striatal and limbic tissue 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels with similar potency and efficacy, and preferentially increases extracellular 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels in the nucleus accumbens when compared to the striatum. Haloperidol shows similar potency for the displacement of in vivo [3H]raclopride binding in striatal and limbic regions and preferentially increases striatal tissue 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels. The present data characterize amisulpride as a specific dopamine receptor antagonist with high and similar affinity for the dopamine D2 and D3 receptor. In vivo, it displays a degree of limbic selectivity and a preferential effect, at low doses, on dopamine D2/D3 autoreceptors. This atypical profile may explain the therapeutic efficacy of amisulpride in the treatment of both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

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