RATIONALERecent studies suggest that alpha(2) adrenoceptor blockade may improve the antipsychotic-like effects of neuroleptics and attenuate dopamine D(2) receptor antagonist-induced catalepsy. However, several alpha(2) adrenergic antagonists also display serotonin 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist activity, which may contribute to anticataleptic actions.OBJECTIVESIn this study, we examined a series of alpha(2) adrenergic antagonists to determine the role of activity at serotonin 5-HT(1A) receptors in their anticataleptic effects.METHODSCatalepsy in rats induced by the antipsychotic haloperidol (2.5 mg/kg, SC) was measured using the cross-legged position (CLP) and bar tests. The compounds examined in this study, in decreasing rank order of alpha(2) adrenergic versus 5-HT(1A) receptor selectivity, were atipamezole, methoxy-idazoxan (RX821002), efaroxan, idazoxan, and yohimbine. Antagonism studies were conducted using the selective 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist N-[2-[4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-N-(2-pyridinyl) cyclohexanecarboxamide dihydrochloride (WAY100635).RESULTSIdazoxan, efaroxan, and yohimbine significantly attenuated the cataleptic effects of haloperidol (2.5 mg/kg, SC) in the CLP test and the actions of their highest doses were significantly blocked by pre-treatment with WAY100635 (0.63 mg/kg, SC). In contrast to the other compounds, methoxy-idazoxan was ineffective in the CLP test. Atipamezole exhibited anticataleptic effects in the bar and CLP tests which were not blocked by WAY100635. Similarly, the anticataleptic effects of methoxy-idazoxan and idazoxan in the bar test were not blocked by WAY100635.CONCLUSIONSSerotonin 5-HT(1A) receptors play a prominent role in anticataleptic effects of certain alpha(2) adrenergic antagonists in the CLP test, whereas alpha(2)-adrenergic mechanisms are likely to be primarily responsible for the anticataleptic effects of these ligands in the bar test.