RATIONALEThe benzazepine and "selective" dopamine D1 receptor antagonist, SCH23390 [(R)-(+)-8-chloro-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-3-methyl-5-phenyl-1H-benzazepine-7-ol], shows significant affinity at native serotonin (5-HT)2C receptors.OBJECTIVESWe examined its functional actions at cloned human (h)5-HT2C receptors (VSV isoform) stably expressed in CHO cells.METHODSSince 5-HT2C receptors are positively coupled to phospholipase C (PLC), their activation was determined by depletion of membrane-bound pools of pre-labelled [3H]phosphotidylinositol ([3H]PI).RESULTSSCH23390 showed high affinity (Ki, 9.3 nM) at h5-HT2C sites and depleted [3H]PI with an EC50 of 2.6 nM. Its efficacy was equivalent to that of 5-HT. [3H]PI depletion elicited by SCH23390 was concentration-dependently abolished by the selective 5-HT2C antagonist, SB242,084, with a K(B) of 0.55 nM. Further, in the presence of a fixed concentration of SB242,084 (10 nM), the concentration-response curve for SCH23390 was shifted to the right without loss of maximal effect, yielding a K(B) of 0.57 nM.CONCLUSIONSSCH23390 is a potent and high efficacy agonist at h5-HT2C receptors. Activation of 5-HT2C receptors by SCH23390 may contribute to its functional properties both in animals and in humans.