Lorcaserin (LOR) is a selective 5-HT2C receptor agonist that has been FDA approved as a treatment for obesity. The most frequently reported side-effects of LOR include nausea and headache, which can be dose limiting. We have previously reported that in the rat, while LOR produced unconditioned signs characteristic of nausea/malaise, the highly selective 5-HT2C agonist CP-809101 (CP) produced fewer equivalent signs. Because this may indicate a subclass of 5-HT2C agonists having better tolerability, the present studies were designed to further investigate this apparent difference. In a conditioned gaping model, a rodent test of nausea, LOR produced significantly higher gapes compared to CP consistent with it having higher emetogenic properties. Subsequent studies were designed to identify features of each drug that may account for such differences. In rats trained to discriminate CP-809101 from saline, both CP and LOR produced full generalization suggesting a similar interoceptive cue. In vitro tests of functional selectivity designed to examine signaling pathways activated by both drugs in CHO (Chinese hamster ovary) cells expressing h5-HT2C receptors failed to identify evidence for biased signaling differences between LOR and CP. Thus, both drugs showed similar profiles across PLC, PLA2, and ERK signaling pathways. In studies designed to examine pharmacokinetic differences between LOR and CP, while drug plasma levels correlated with increasing dose, CSF levels did not. CSF levels of LOR increased proportionally with dose; however CSF levels of CP plateaued from 6 to 12 mg/kg. Thus, the apparently improved tolerability of CP likely reflects a limit to CNS levels attained at relatively high doses.
Keywords: 5-HT; CP-809101; CSF compartment; Serotonin; biased signaling; conditioned gaping; drug discrimination; lorcaserin; nausea; pharmacokinetics; plasma compartment; rat.