Deriving the therapeutic concentrations for clozapine and haloperidol: the apparent dissociation constant of a neuroleptic at the dopamine D2 or D4 receptor varies with the affinity of the competing radioligand

Eur J Pharmacol. 1995 Oct 15;291(2):59-66. doi: 10.1016/0922-4106(95)90125-6.


The apparent dissociation constant, Ki, for a neuroleptic at the dopamine D2 or D4 receptor was consistently higher when competed against [3H]nemonapride than against [3H]spiperone which was in turn higher than that against [3H]raclopride. This finding obtained for all four types of dopamine receptors studied, including the native dopamine D2 receptor in the anterior pituitary tissue, the human D2long receptor, the human D2short receptor and the human D4.4 receptor. Some neuroleptics revealed a difference of over 10-fold between the Ki using [3H]nemonapride and the Ki using [3H]raclopride. The KD values of the three 3H-ligands and the neuroleptic Ki values were lower when using a much lower concentration of tissue, indicating that depletion of ligand presumably accounted for the phenomenon. The Ki values of each neuroleptic were related to the the tissue/buffer partition coefficients of the three 3H-ligands. Extrapolating the neuroleptic Ki value down to a tissue/buffer partition coefficient of unity or zero led to a Ki value for competition versus a water-soluble ligand such as dopamine. Clozapine extrapolated to a Ki value of 1.3 nM. Direct measurement gave a Ki value of 1.6 nM for [3H]clozapine at the dopamine D4 receptor. When competing versus endogenous dopamine, this clozapine value of 1.6 nM would rise to 20 nM for the blockade of 75% of dopamine D4 receptors, matching the observed therapeutic concentration of 18 nM. These data also explain why clozapine occupies 48% of the D2 receptors in patients when measured with [11C]raclopride, but between 0% and 22% when measured with [18F]methylspiperone or [18F]fluoroethylspiperone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Caudate Nucleus / drug effects
  • Clozapine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Clozapine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Haloperidol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects
  • Raclopride
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects*
  • Salicylamides / pharmacokinetics
  • Swine


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Salicylamides
  • Raclopride
  • Clozapine
  • Haloperidol