BACKGROUND AND PURPOSEXaliproden (SR57746A) is a 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist and neurotrophic agent that reduces oxaliplatin-mediated neuropathy in clinical trials. The present study investigated its profile on in vitro transduction, neurochemical responses and acute nociceptive pain tests in rats.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHXaliproden was tested on models associated with 5-HT(1A) receptor activation including G-protein activation, extracellular dopamine and 5-HT levels measured by microdialysis and formalin-induced pain. Activation of 5-HT(1A) receptors was confirmed by antagonism with WAY100635.KEY RESULTSXaliproden exhibited high affinity for rat (r) and human (h) 5-HT(1A) receptors (pK(i)= 8.84 and 9.00). In [(35)S]GTPgammaS (guanosine 5'-O-(3-[(35)S]thio)triphosphate) assays it activated both hippocampal r5-HT(1A)[pEC(50)/E(MAX) of 7.58/61% (%5-HT)] and recombinant h5-HT(1A) receptors (glioma C6-h5-HT(1A): 7.39/62%; HeLa-h5-HT(1A): 7.24/93%). In functional [(35)S]GTPgammaS autoradiography, xaliproden induced labelling in structures enriched with 5-HT(1A) receptors (hippocampus, lateral septum, prefrontal and entorhinal cortices). Xaliproden inhibited in vivo binding of [(3)H]WAY100635 to 5-HT(1A) receptors in mouse frontal cortex and hippocampus (ID(50): 3.5 and 3.3 mg x kg(-1), p.o. respectively). In rat, it increased extracellular dopamine levels in frontal cortex and reduced hippocampal 5-HT levels (ED(50): 1.2 and 0.7 mg x kg(-1), i.p. respectively). In a rat pain model, xaliproden inhibited paw licking and elevation (ED(50): 1 and 3 mg x kg(-1), i.p. respectively) following formalin injection in the paw. All effects were reversed by pretreatment with WAY100635.CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONSThese results indicate that activation of 5-HT(1A) receptors is the principal mechanism of action of xaliproden and provide further support for the utility of 5-HT(1A) receptor activation as an anti-nociceptive strategy.