Effects of lurasidone in behavioral models of depression. Role of the 5-HT7 receptor subtype

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Major depression is a common psychiatric disorder associated with high symptomatic and functional burdens. Pharmacological treatment is often effective, but there remain substantial unmet needs in the form of non-responders, delayed onset of clinical effect, and side effects. Recent studies have positioned the serotonin 5-HT7 receptor as a new target for the treatment of depression. Preclinical studies have shown that antagonists induce an antidepressant-like response, a phenotype that can also be observed in mice lacking the receptor. Lurasidone is a new atypical antipsychotic agent with very high affinity for the 5-HT7 receptor. Patients in clinical trials have reported improved scores in depression ratings. We have tested lurasidone in both acute and chronic mouse models of depression. In the tail suspension and forced swim tests lurasidone decreased immobility, an antidepressant-like response. The effect required functional 5-HT7 receptors as it was absent in mice lacking the receptor. In the repeated open-space swim test lurasidone was able to reverse the despair induced by repeated swims in a manner similar to the commonly used antidepressant citalopram. The results provide evidence that lurasidone can act as a 5-HT7 receptor antagonist and provide a possible explanation for the antidepressant effect data currently emerging from lurasidone clinical trials. Additionally, the results give further support for targeting the 5-HT7 receptor in the treatment of depression. It will be of interest to clinically evaluate lurasidone as an antidepressant either as monotherapy or as an adjunctive therapy to available drugs.

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