Aripiprazole is a psychotropic agent belonging to the chemical class of benzisoxazole derivatives and is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia. Aripiprazole is a selective monoaminergic antagonist/partial agonist with high affinity for the serotonin Type 2 (5HT2), dopamine Type 2 (D2), 1 and 2 adrenergic, and H1 histaminergic receptors. Aripiprazole acts as an antagonist at other receptors, but with lower potency. Antagonism at receptors other than dopamine and 5HT2 with similar receptor affinities may explain some of the other therapeutic and side effects of Aripiprazole. Aripiprazole’s antagonism of histamine H1 receptors may explain the somnolence observed with this drug. Aripiprazole’s antagonism of adrenergic a1 receptors may explain the orthostatic hypotension observed with this drug.
Aripiprazole’s antipsychotic activity is likely due to a combination of antagonism / partial agonism at D2 receptors in the mesolimbic pathway and antagonism at 5HT2A receptors in the frontal cortex. Action at D2 receptors relieves positive symptoms while antagonism at 5HT2A receptors relieves negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
Furthermore, the complexity of the mechanism of action has progressively shifted the conceptualization of this agent from partial agonism to functional selectivity. From the induction of early genes to modulation of scaffolding proteins and activation of transcription factors, aripiprazole has been shown to affect multiple cellular pathways and several cortical and subcortical neurotransmitter circuitries. Growing evidence shows that, beyond the consequences of D2R occupancy, aripiprazole has a unique neurobiology among available antipsychotics.
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