Dopamine D1R Receptor Stimulation as a Mechanistic Pro-cognitive Target for Schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2022 Jan 21;48(1):199-210. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbab095.


Decades of research have highlighted the importance of optimal stimulation of cortical dopaminergic receptors, particularly the D1R receptor (D1R), for prefrontal-mediated cognition. This mechanism is particularly relevant to the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, given the abnormalities in cortical dopamine (DA) neurotransmission and in the expression of D1R. Despite the critical need for D1R-based therapeutics, many factors have complicated their development and prevented this important therapeutic target from being adequately interrogated. Challenges include determination of the optimal level of D1R stimulation needed to improve cognitive performance, especially when D1R expression levels, affinity states, DA levels, and the resulting D1R occupancy by DA, are not clearly known in schizophrenia, and may display great interindividual and intraindividual variability related to cognitive states and other physiological variables. These directly affect the selection of the level of stimulation necessary to correct the underlying neurobiology. The optimal mechanism for stimulation is also unknown and could include partial or full agonism, biased agonism, or positive allosteric modulation. Furthermore, the development of D1R targeting drugs has been complicated by complexities in extrapolating from in vitro affinity determinations to in vivo use. Prior D1R-targeted drugs have been unsuccessful due to poor bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and insufficient target engagement at tolerable doses. Newer drugs have recently become available, and these must be tested in the context of carefully designed paradigms that address methodological challenges. In this paper, we discuss how a better understanding of these challenges has shaped our proposed experimental design for testing a new D1R/D5R partial agonist, PF-06412562, renamed CVL-562.

Keywords: D1 partial agonism; D1 receptor; cognition; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism
  • Dopamine Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Drug Development*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / agonists*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D5 / agonists
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D5