Olanzapine: A potent agonist at the hM4D(Gi) DREADD amenable to clinical translation of chemogenetics

Sci Adv. 2019 Apr 17;5(4):eaaw1567. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1567. eCollection 2019 Apr.


Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) derived from muscarinic receptors not only are a powerful tool to test causality in basic neuroscience but also are potentially amenable to clinical translation. A major obstacle, however, is that the widely used agonist clozapine N-oxide undergoes conversion to clozapine, which penetrates the blood-brain barrier but has an unfavorable side effect profile. Perlapine has been reported to activate DREADDs at nanomolar concentrations but is not approved for use in humans by the Food and Drug Administration or the European Medicines Agency, limiting its translational potential. Here, we report that the atypical antipsychotic drug olanzapine, widely available in various formulations, is a potent agonist of the human M4 muscarinic receptor-based DREADD, facilitating clinical translation of chemogenetics to treat central nervous system diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Designer Drugs / chemistry
  • Designer Drugs / pharmacology*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Olanzapine / chemistry*
  • Olanzapine / pharmacology*
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4 / agonists*
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4 / genetics*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Designer Drugs
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Olanzapine