A selective 5-HT1A receptor agonist improves respiration in a mouse model of Rett syndrome.

Levitt ES, Hunnicutt BJ, Knopp SJ, Williams JT, Bissonnette JM.
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Dec;115(11):1626-33. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

Rett syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by loss of function mutations in the gene that encodes the DNA binding protein methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (Mecp2). A prominent feature of the syndrome is disturbances in respiration characterized by frequent apnea and an irregular interbreath cycle. 8-Hydroxy-2-dipropylaminotetralin has been shown to positively modulate these disturbances (Abdala AP, Dutschmann M, Bissonnette JM, Paton JF, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107: 18208-18213, 2010), but the mode of action is not understood. Here we show that the selective 5-HT1A biased agonist 3-chloro-4-fluorophenyl-(4-fluoro-4-{[(5-methylpyrimidin-2-ylmethyl)-amino]-methyl}-piperidin-1-yl)-methanone (F15599) decreases apnea and corrects irregularity in both heterozygous Mecp2-deficient female and in Mecp2 null male mice. In whole cell voltage-clamp recordings from dorsal raphe neurons, F15599 potently induced an outward current, which was blocked by barium, reversed at the potassium equilibrium potential, and was antagonized by the 5-HT1a antagonist WAY100135. This is consistent with somatodendritic 5-HT1A receptor-mediated activation of G protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channels (GIRK). In contrast, F15599 did not activate 5-HT1B/D receptors that mediate inhibition of glutamate release from terminals in the nucleus accumbens by a presynaptic mechanism. Thus F15599 activated somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors, but not axonal 5-HT1B/D receptors. In unanesthetized Mecp2-deficient heterozygous female mice, F15599 reduced apnea in a dose-dependent manner with maximal effect of 74.5 ± 6.9% at 0.1 mg/kg and improved breath irrregularity. Similarly, in Mecp2 null male mice, apnea was reduced by 62 ± 6.6% at 0.25 mg/kg, and breathing became regular. The results indicate respiration is improved with a 5-HT1A agonist that activates GIRK channels without affecting neurotransmitter release.