The preclinical profile of asenapine: clinical relevance for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar mania

Frank I Tarazi, Jo C Neill
Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery 2013, 8 (1): 93-103

INTRODUCTION: Asenapine is a novel antipsychotic drug approved for the treatment of acute schizophrenia, manic, or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, as a maintenance treatment of schizophrenia and as an adjunctive therapy with lithium or valproate for the acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in adults.

AREAS COVERED: This review focuses on the preclinical profile of asenapine. It analyzes the pharmacological, neurochemical, behavioral, and molecular mechanisms of asenapine and their contribution to the beneficial therapeutic advantages of the drug as reported in published preclinical and clinical studies, product labels, and poster presentations.

EXPERT OPINION: Asenapine exhibits a broad pharmacological profile that targets a wide range of neurotransmitter receptors with variable affinities. The drug preferentially increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine levels in cortical and limbic brain areas. It also potentiates cortical glutamatergic neurotransmission, and is active in behavioral animal models predictive of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and pro-cognitive activities. Chronic administration of asenapine alters the abundance of dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, adrenergic, and cholinergic receptor subtypes in different brain regions. These action mechanisms of asenapine might contribute to its unique psychopharmacological properties in the improved treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

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