Treatment with the antipsychotic agent, risperidone, reduces disease severity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Laura Green, Sarrabeth Stone, Pirooz Zareie, Marie Kharkrang, Dahna Fong, Bronwen Connor, Anne Camille La Flamme

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have demonstrated that atypical antipsychotic agents, which are known to antagonize dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT2a receptors, have immunomodulatory properties. Given the potential of these drugs to modulate the immune system both peripherally and within the central nervous system, we investigated the ability of the atypical antipsychotic agent, risperidone, to modify disease in the animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS)4, experimental autoimune encephalomyelitis (EAE). We found that chronic oral administration of risperidone dose-dependently reduced the severity of disease and decreased both the size and number of spinal cord lesions. Furthermore, risperidone treatment substantially reduced antigen-specific interleukin (IL)-17a, IL-2, and IL-4 but not interferon (IFN)-γ production by splenocytes at peak disease and using an in vitro model, we show that treatment of macrophages with risperidone alters their ability to bias naïve T cells. Another atypical antipsychotic agent, clozapine, showed a similar ability to modify macrophages in vitro and to reduce disease in the EAE model but this effect was not due to antagonism of the type 1 or type 2 dopamine receptors alone. Finally, we found that while risperidone treatment had little effect on the in vivo activation of splenic macrophages during EAE, it significantly reduced the activation of microglia and macrophages in the central nervous system. Together these studies indicate that atypical antipsychotic agents like risperidone are effective immunomodulatory agents with the potential to treat immune-mediated diseases such as MS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere104430
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • macrophages
  • dopamine
  • antipsychotics
  • spinal cord
  • mouse models
  • microglial cells
  • T cells
  • cyokines

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