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A number of atypical antipsychotic drugs were demonstrated to have anxiolytic effects in patients and in animal models. These effects were mostly suggested to be the consequence of the drugs’ affinity to the serotonin system and its receptors. Asenapine is a relatively new atypical antipsychotic that is prescribed for schizophrenia and for bipolar mania. Asenapine has a broad pharmacological profile with significant effects on serotonergic receptors, hence it is reasonable to expect that asenapine may have some anxiolytic effects. The present study was therefore designed to examine possible effects of asenapine on anxiety-like behaviour of mice.
Male ICR mice were repeatedly treated with 0.1 or 0.3 mg/kg injections of asenapine and then tested in a battery of behavioural tests related to anxiety including the open-field test, elevated plus-maze (EPM), defensive marble burying and hyponeophagia tests. In an adjunct experiment, we tested the effects of acute diazepam in the same test battery.
The results show that diazepam reduced anxiety-like behaviour in the EPM, the defensive marble burying test and the hyponeophagia test but not in the open field. Asenapine has anxiolytic-like effects in the EPM and the defensive marble burying tests but had no effects in the open-field or the hyponeophagia tests. Asenapine had no effects on locomotor activity.
The results suggest that asenapine may have anxiolytic-like properties and recommends that clinical trials examining such effects should be performed.
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