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Partial Dopamine Agonists and Dopaminergic Stabilizers, in the Treatment of Psychosis

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The early demonstration of chlorpromazine efficacy in schizophrenia and its subsequent identification as a dopamine receptor antagonist, established the only known mechanism for antipsychotic development to date. By extension, it is easy to hypothesize that any mechanism shown to reduce dopamine-mediated transmission in brain will have antipsychotic properties. The evaluation of partial dopamine agonists for antipsychotic efficacy and their application in the treatment of psychosis has derived from this background. Partial dopamine agonists at the D2 dopamine receptor, have high affinity for that receptor, but reduced intrinsic activity. These agonists have higher affinity for the presynaptic autoreceptor than for the postsynaptic receptor. Hence, these compounds reduce dopamine synthesis and release through an agonist action at the dopamine autoreceptor. Moreover, the agonists have lower intrinsic activity at the postsynaptic receptor than its natural ligand dopamine. Therefore, they diminish the dopaminergic signal at postsynaptic sites as well through delivering a reduced message; this component of drug action becomes more prominent the lower the intrinsic activity of the drug. Several partial dopamine agonists have been evaluated in schizophrenia. One of them, aripiprazole, is nearing approval for marketing. With partial dopamine agonist treatment, advantages should accrue to schizophrenia treatment in the areas of affect control and cognitive performance.

Keywords: aripiprazole; dopamine; dopaminergic stabilizers; intrinsic activity; partial dopamine agonists; psychopharmacology; psychosis; schizophrenia; therapeutics

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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