SKF-83959 is not a highly-biased functionally selective D1 dopamine receptor ligand with activity at phospholipase C

Sang Min Lee, Andrew Kant, Daniel Blake, Vishakantha Murthy, Kevin Boyd, Steven J. Wyrick, Richard B. Mailman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


SKF-83959 [6-chloro-7,8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-1-(3-methylphenyl)-2,3,4,5- tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine] is reported to be a functionally selective dopamine D1 receptor ligand with high bias for D1-mediated phospholipase C (PLC) versus D1-coupled adenylate cyclase signaling. This signaling bias is proposed to explain behavioral activity in both rat and primate Parkinson's disease models, and a D1-D2 heterodimer has been proposed as the underlying mechanism. We have conducted an in-depth pharmacological characterization of this compound in dopamine D 1 and D2 receptors in both rat brain and heterologous systems expressing human D1 or D2 receptors. Contrary to common assumptions, SKF-83959 is similar to the classical, well-characterized partial agonist SKF38393 in all systems. It is a partial agonist (not an antagonist) at adenylate cyclase in vitro and ex vivo, and is a partial agonist in D1-mediated β-arrestin recruitment. Contrary to earlier reports, it does not have D1-mediated effects on PLC signaling in heterologous systems. Because drug metabolites can also contribute, its 3-N-demethylated analog also was synthesized and tested. As expected from the known structure-activity relationships of the benzazepines, this compound also had high affinity for the D1 receptor and somewhat higher intrinsic activity than the parent ligand, and also might contribute to in vivo effects of SKF-83959. Together, these data demonstrate that SKF-83959 is not a highly-biased functionally selective D1 ligand, and that its reported behavioral data can be explained solely by its partial D1 agonism in canonical signaling pathway(s). Mechanisms that have been proposed based on the purported signaling novelty of SKF-83959 at PLC should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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