Anxiolytic potential of 5-HT3 receptor antagonists

Pharmacol Toxicol. 1992 Mar;70(3):157-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0773.1992.tb00448.x.


The 5-HT3 receptor antagonists such as ondansetron have been shown to have anxiolytic-like activity in a wide range of preclinical tests: in the mouse black: white test, the rat social interaction test, the rat elevated X-maze and the marmoset human threat test. Ondansetron, like other 5-HT3 receptor antagonists appears to have important advantages over existing anxiolytic therapies. Thus, the 5-HT3 receptor antagonists are not sedative, they do not have addictive liabilities, there are no problems of withdrawing from chronic treatment and they can be used following benzodiazepine withdrawal. Such compounds even inhibit the behavioural syndrome associated with withdrawal from drugs of abuse, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, opiates. The preclinical data, therefore, indicates the 5-HT3 receptor antagonists as novel anxiolytics of the future, and there is new clinical work in support of this suggestion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Antagonists