3D-QSAR study indicates an enhancing effect of membrane ions on psychiatric drugs targeting serotonin receptor 5-HT1A

Mol Biosyst. 2012 Apr;8(5):1418-25. doi: 10.1039/c2mb00005a. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Antidepressants and antipsychotics are psychiatric agents used for the treatment of various types of psychiatric diseases. Although currently among the most commonly prescribed drugs, their effectiveness and adverse effects are the topic of many studies and controversial claims. Here we generate QSAR models based on compounds series including 20 drugs recommended for two critical psychiatric diseases: depression and schizophrenia and we use these QSAR models to predict the biological activity of these 20 antidepressants and antipsychotics. We establish the membrane ions' contributions (sodium, potassium, calcium and iron) mediated by water to the antagonism of these drugs at the 5-HT1A receptor. The reliability of our QSAR models in predicting compounds activity is indicated by significant values for cross-validated correlation q² (0.60-0.76) and fitted correlation r² (0.96-0.98) coefficients. Our results indicate that potassium, calcium and iron play a key role for the antagonistic activity of drugs at the 5-HT1A receptor. Moreover, based on the established QSAR equations, we analysed 24 new escitalopram derivatives as possibly improved antidepressants targeting the 5-HT1A receptor. We identified that the presence of methyl groups and hydrogen atoms improves antidepressant activity while the simultaneous presence of ethyl, propyl or halogens decreased drastically antidepressant activity at the 5-HT1A site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / chemistry
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Citalopram / chemistry
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Ions / pharmacology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship*
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / metabolism*
  • Serotonin 5-HT1 Receptor Antagonists / chemistry
  • Serotonin 5-HT1 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Water


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Ions
  • Serotonin 5-HT1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Water
  • Citalopram
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A