Dopamine partial agonists: a discrete class of antipsychotics

Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2022 Dec 10;1-13. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2022.2151473. Online ahead of print.


Worldwide, there are now three marketed dopamine D2 partial agonists: aripiprazole, brexpiprazole and cariprazine. These three drugs share a number of properties other than their action at D2 receptors. Pharmacologically, they are 5HT2 antagonists and D3 and 5HT1A partial agonists but with little or no alpha-adrenergic, anticholinergic or antihistaminic activity. They also share a long duration of action. Clinically, D2 partial agonists are effective antipsychotics and generally have useful antimanic and antidepressant activity. They are usually well tolerated, causing akathisia and insomnia only at the start of treatment, and are non-sedating. These drugs also share a very low risk of increased prolactin and of weight gain and accompanying metabolic effects. They may also have a relatively low risk of tardive dyskinesia. There is some evidence that they are preferred by patients to dopamine antagonists. Individual dopamineD2 partial agonists have much in common and as a group they differ importantly from dopamine D2 antagonists. Dopamine D2 partial agonists should be considered a distinct class of antipsychotics.Key pointsD2 partial agonists share many pharmacological and clinical propertiesD2 partial agonists differ in several important respects from D2 antagonistsD2 partial agonists should be considered a discrete class of antipsychotics.

Keywords: D2 partial angonists; antipsychotics; aripiprazole; brexpiprazole; cariprazine.

Publication types

  • Review