RATIONALEThere is evidence that serotonergic mechanisms contribute to the functional profiles of antipsychotic drugs, several of which display affinity for human (h)5-HT(1A) receptors.OBJECTIVEHere, we compared the interaction of several antipsychotic agents at h5-HT(1A) receptors employing mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), an intracellular marker.METHODSThe influence of antipsychotics on MAPK phosphorylation was quantified in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably transfected with h5-HT(1A) receptors by use of a highly selective antibody.RESULTSThe novel antipsychotic agent, S16924, concentration-dependently (pEC(50), 8.10) stimulated the phosphorylation of MAPK. Its maximal effect (96%) was similar to that of the prototypical 5-HT(1A) agonist, (+)8-OH-DPAT (pEC(50), 8.54) (defined as 100%). The selective 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist WAY100,635, which was inactive alone, abolished stimulation of MAPK by S16924 with a pK(b) of 9.66. This stimulatory influence of S16924 on MAPK was potently mimicked by the benzoisoxazole, antipsychotic ziprasidone (pEC(50), 7.25; 93%). The atypical antipsychotic clozapine also activated MAPK, albeit with lower potency and efficacy (pEC(50), 5.43 and 43%). These actions of ziprasidone and clozapine were also blocked by WAY100,635. Evaluated at a single, high concentration, several other antipsychotics stimulated MAPK phosphorylation with variable efficacy: quetiapine (75%), ocaperidone (74%), tiospirone (57%), olanzapine (54%) and risperidone (21%). In all cases, their actions were abolished by WAY100,635. In contrast, haloperidol, thioridazine and sertindole did not stimulate MAPK.CONCLUSIONSAntipsychotics display contrasting efficacies in modulating MAPK phosphorylation at h5-HT(1A) receptors, ranging from high (e.g. S16924 and ziprasidone), via intermediate (e.g. clozapine) to low (e.g. haloperidol). Differential modulation of 5-HT(1A) receptor-coupled MAPK may contribute to their contrasting functional profiles.