Inverse agonism at dopamine D2 receptors. Haloperidol-induced prolactin release from GH4C1 cells transfected with the human D2 receptor is antagonized by R(-)-n-propylnorapomorphine, raclopride, and phenoxybenzamine

Neuropsychopharmacology. 1996 Jul;15(1):53-61. doi: 10.1016/0893-133X(95)00156-8.


Our earlier observation that the antipsychotic drug haloperidol in the absence of dopamine increases cAMP formation and prolactin release in two prolactin-producing cell lines expressing rat dopamine D2 receptors (GH3, GH4ZR7), but not in similar cells devoid of D2 receptors (GH4C1), prompted us to suggest that haloperidol may act as an inverse (or negative) agonist, rather than as a neutral antagonist, at the D2 receptor (Nilsson and Eriksson 1993). In the present study it is shown that haloperidol elicits a dose-dependent increase in prolactin release also in prolactin-producing GH4C1 cells transfected with the human dopamine D2 receptor (short isoform) (GH4C1-hD2s); in addition, it is shown that another antipsychotic drug, flupenthixol, also causes prolactin release per se in this cell line. The effect of haloperidol on prolactin release in GH4C1-hD2s is calcium dependent and counteracted by pretreatment either with the D2 receptor agonist R(-)-n-propylnorapomorphine or with a D2 receptor antagonist that does not affect prolactin release per se (raclopride). In addition, pretreatment with the alkylating compound phenoxybenzamine at a concentration causing a marked reduction of D2 receptor density in GH4C1-hD2s cells significantly counteracted haloperidol-induced prolactin release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Phenoxybenzamine / pharmacology*
  • Prolactin / metabolism*
  • Raclopride
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects*
  • Salicylamides / pharmacology*


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Salicylamides
  • Phenoxybenzamine
  • Raclopride
  • Prolactin
  • Haloperidol