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Ligand bias and inverse agonism on 5-HT 2A receptor-mediated modulation of G protein activity in post-mortem human brain.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Whereas biased agonism on the 5-HT2A receptor has been ascribed to hallucinogenic properties of psychedelics, no information about biased inverse agonism on this receptor is available. In schizophrenia, increased 5-HT2A receptor constitutive activity has been suggested, highlighting the therapeutic relevance of inverse agonism. This study characterized the modulation of G protein activity promoted by different drugs, commonly considered as 5-HT2A receptor antagonists, in post-mortem human brain cortex.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Modulation of [35 S]GTPγS binding to different subtypes of Gα proteins exerted by different 5-HT2A receptor drugs was determined by scintillation proximity assays in brain from human, WT and 5-HT2A receptor KO mice.

KEY RESULTS: MDL-11,939 was the only drug having no effect on the basal activity of 5-HT2A receptor. Altanserin and pimavanserin decreased basal activation of Gi1 , but not Gq/11 proteins. This effect was blocked by MDL-11,939 and absent in 5-HT2A receptor KO mice. Volinanserin showed 5-HT2A receptor-mediated inverse agonism both on Gi1 and Gq/11 proteins. Ketanserin exhibited 5-HT2A receptor partial agonism exclusively on Gq/11 proteins. On the other hand, eplivanserin and nelotanserin displayed inverse agonism on Gq/11 and/or Gi1 proteins, which was insensitive to MDL-11,939 and was present in KO mice suggesting a role for another receptor.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: The results reveal the existence of constitutively active 5-HT2A receptors in human pre-frontal cortex and demonstrate different pharmacological profiles of various 5-HT2A receptor drugs previously considered antagonists. These findings indicate that altanserin and pimavanserin possess biased inverse agonist profile towards 5-HT2A receptor activation of Gi1 proteins.

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