Targeting the 5-HT2C Receptor in Biological Context and the Current State of 5-HT2C Receptor Ligand Development

Curr Top Med Chem. 2019;19(16):1381-1398. doi: 10.2174/1568026619666190709101449.


Serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) is recognized as a critical mediator of diseaserelated pathways and behaviors based upon actions in the central nervous system (CNS). Since 5-HT2CR is a class A G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), drug discovery efforts have traditionally pursued the activation of the receptor through synthetic ligands with agonists proposed for the treatment of obesity, substance use disorders and impulse control disorders while antagonists may add value for the treatment of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. The most significant agonist discovery to date is the FDAapproved anti-obesity medication lorcaserin. In recent years, efforts towards developing other mechanisms to enhance receptor function have resulted in the discovery of Positive Allosteric Modulators (PAMs) for the 5-HT2CR, with several molecule series now reported. The biological significance and context for signaling and function of the 5-HT2CR, and the current status of 5-HT2CR agonists and PAMs are discussed in this review.

Keywords: 5-HT2C receptor; Agonists; Allosteric modulation; Central nervous system disorders; Drug discovery; Ligand development; Neurotherapeutics; Pharmacological probes; Positive allosteric modulators; Signaling bias; Target selectivity..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2C / metabolism*
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists / chemical synthesis
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists / chemistry
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists / chemical synthesis
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists / chemistry
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*


  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2C
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin 5-HT2 Receptor Antagonists