Schizophrenia (SZ) that is resistant to treatment with dopamine (DA) D2 antagonists may involve changes other than those in the dopaminergic system. Recently, histamine (HA), which regulates arousal and cognitive functions, has been suggested to act as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Four HA receptors-H1, H2, H3, and H4- have been identified. Our recent basic and clinical studies revealed that brain HA improved the symptoms of SZ. The H3 receptor is primarily localized in the central nervous system, and it acts not only as a presynaptic autoreceptor that modulates the HA release but also as a presynaptic heteroreceptor that regulates the release of other neurotransmitters such as monoamines and amino acids. H3-receptor inverse agonists have been considered to improve cognitive functions. Many atypical antipsychotics are H3-receptor antagonists. Imidazole-containing H3-receptor inverse agonists inhibit not only cytochrome P450 but also hERG potassium channels (encoded by the human ether-a-go-go-related gene). Several imidazole H3-receptor inverse agonists also have high affinity for H4 receptors, which are expressed at high levels in mast cells and leukocytes. Clozapine is an H4-receptor agonist; this agonist activity may be related to the serious side effect of agranulocytosis caused by clozapine. Therefore, selective non-imidazole H3-receptor inverse agonists can be considered as novel antipsychotics that may improve refractory SZ.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, histamine, antipsychotic, imidazole-containing histamine H3 receptor inverse agonist, side effect, histamine H4 receptor agonist, non-imidazole histamine H3 receptor inverse agonist
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