Brexpiprazole I: In vitro and in vivo characterization of a novel serotonin-dopamine activity modulator

Kenji Maeda, Haruhiko Sugino, Hitomi Akazawa, Naoki Amada, Jun Shimada, Takashi Futamura, Hiroshi Yamashita, Nobuaki Ito, Robert D. McQuade, Arne Mørk, Alan L. Pehrson, Morten Hentzer, Vibeke Nielsen, Christoffer Bundgaard, Jørn Arnt, Tine Bryan Stensbøl, Tetsuro Kikuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


Brexpiprazole (OPC-34712, 7-{4-[4-(1-benzothiophen-4-yl) piperazin-1-yl]butoxy}quinolin-2(1H)-one) is a novel drug candidate in clinical development for psychiatric disorders with high affinity for serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline receptors. In particular, it bound with high affinity (Ki < 1 nM) to human serotonin 1A (h5-HT1A)-, h5-HT2A-, long form of human D2 (hD2L)-, hα1B-, and hα2C-adrenergic receptors. It displayed partial agonism at h5-HT1A and hD2 receptors in cloned receptor systems and potent antagonism of h5-HT2A receptors and hα1B/2C-adrenoceptors. Brexpiprazole also had affinity (Ki < 5 nM) for hD3-, h5-HT2B-, h5-HT 7-, hα1A-, and hα1D-adrenergic receptors, moderate affinity for hH1 (Ki = 19 nM), and low affinity for hM1 receptors (Ki > 1000 nM). Brexpiprazole potently bound to rat 5-HT2A and D2 receptors in vivo, and ex vivo binding studies further confirmed high 5-HT 1A receptor binding potency. Brexpiprazole inhibited DOI (2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine)-induced head twitches in rats, suggestive of 5-HT2A antagonism. Furthermore, in vivo D2 partial agonist activity of brexpiprazole was confirmed by its inhibitory effect on reserpine-induced DOPA accumulation in rats. In rat microdialysis studies, brexpiprazole slightly reduced extracellular dopamine in nucleus accumbens but not in prefrontal cortex, whereas moderate increases of the dopamine metabolites, homovanillic acid and DOPAC (3,4-dihydroxy-phenyl-acetic acid), in these areas also suggested in vivo D2 partial agonist activity. In particular, based on a lower intrinsic activity at D2 receptors and higher binding affinities for 5-HT1A/2A receptors than aripiprazole, brexpiprazole would have a favorable antipsychotic potential without D 2 receptor agonist-and antagonist-related adverse effects. In conclusion, brexpiprazole is a serotonin-dopamine activity modulator with a unique pharmacology, which may offer novel treatment options across a broad spectrum of central nervous system disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-604
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


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