Serotonin receptors as targets for drugs useful to treat psychosis and cognitive impairment in schizophrenia

Herbert Y Meltzer, B. W. Massey, M. Horiguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The concept that the efficacy of all antipsychotic drugs (APDs) can be explained by their action on dopamine (DA) D2 receptors is most challenged by drugs such as clozapine which target serotonin (5-HT)2A receptors as an essential component of their efficacy and tolerability. The 5-HT2A receptor, along with 5-HT1A, 5-HT 2C, 5-HT 6 or 5-HT 7 receptors, all of which are components of the mechanism of action of clozapine, represent important targets for treating multiple aspects of schizophrenia, especially psychosis and cognitive impairment. The class of atypical antipsychotic drugs (APDs), of which clozapine is the prototype, share in common more effective 5-HT 2A receptor inverse agonism and weaker interference with D2 receptor stimulation, either through D2 receptor blockade or partial D2 receptor agonism. This has led to development of a selective 5-HT2A antagonist, ACP-103 (pimavanserin), which has been found to be effective as monotherapy in L-DOPA psychosis and has promise as an add-on agent for sub-effective doses of atypical APDs. We review here the extensive preclinical evidence to support the importance of 5-HT2A receptor inverse agonism to the action of clozapine and related atypical APDs, and evidence supporting the potential of selective 5-HT2A, 5-HT 6, and 5-HT 7, antagonists, 5-HT1A partial agonists and 5-HT2C agonists for development of drugs which ameliorate psychosis or cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1572-1586
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • Hallucinogens
  • NMDA receptor
  • Novel object recognition
  • Phencyclidine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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