Serotonergic mechanisms as targets for existing and novel antipsychotics

Herbert Y. Meltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

80 Scopus citations


A variety of serotonin (5-HT) receptors, especially 5-HT2A, 5-HT1A, 5-HT6, 5-HT7, and 5-HT2C, have been postulated to contribute to the mechanism of action of atypical antipsychotic drugs (APDs), i.e., APDs which cause fewer extrapyramidal side effects (EPS) at clinically optimal doses, in contrast with typical APDs, which are more likely to cause EPS. This advantage, rarely disputed, has made such drugs the preferred treatment for schizophrenia and other indications for APDs. These 5-HT receptors are still of interest as components of novel multireceptor or stand-alone APDs, and potentially to remediate cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Almost all currently available atypical APDs are 5-HT 2A receptor inverse agonists, as well as dopamine (DA) D2 receptor antagonists or partial agonists. Amisulpride, an exceptional atypical APD, has 5-HT7 antagonism to complement its DA D2/3 antagonism. Some atypical APDs are also 5-HT1A partial agonists, 5-HT6, or 5-HT7 antagonists, or some combination of the above. 5-HT2C antagonism has been found to contribute to the metabolic side effects of some atypical APDs, whereas 5-HT2C agonists have potential as stand-alone APDs and/or cognitive enhancers. This review will provide an update of current preclinical and clinical evidence for the role of these five 5-HT receptors in the actions of current APDs and for the development of novel psychotropic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Antipsychotics
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media, LLC
Number of pages38
ISBN (Print)9783642257605
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)0171-2004
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0325


  • Antipsychotic
  • Dopamine
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory
  • Phencyclidine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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