Author(s): Pani L, Gessa GL
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Abstract In this paper the historical and scientific background that led to the use of substituted benzamides in two apparently unrelated clinical conditions namely dysthymic disorder and schizophrenia will be reviewed, in order to understand if a common mechanism of action may support this dual therapeutic indication. The dopaminergic antidepressant action of substituted benzamides such as sulpiride, has been proposed, since the late 1970s, by several authors and extensively explored in preclinical experiments by our group. In Italy the first marketing authorization obtained for the new substituted benzamide amisulpride, was with the sole indication of dysthymia and therefore a solid clinical experience exists in the use of substituted benzamides in mild forms of depression, with more than 1 000 000 patients being treated in the last 7 years. The proposed mechanism of action of substituted benzamides implies a selective modulation of the dopaminergic system in the mesocorticolimbic area, important for cognitive processing of internal and external cues, related to survival. The selective antagonism of dopamine D2-D3 receptors has been evoked to explain, in small to moderate doses (ie 50-100 mg day(-1)), the antidepressant effect and, in moderate to medium doses (100-400 mg day(-1)), the reported efficacy on negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus, substituted benzamides could represent the first class of atypical antipsychotics successfully employed for both depressive states and schizophrenia. Interestingly, recent evidence in the literature suggests that depressive episodes belonging to the bipolar spectrum are among "alternative indications" of other atypical antipsychotics such as olanzapine and risperidone.
This article was published in Mol Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Bioanalysis & Biomedicine