Effects of ulotaront on brain circuits of reward, working memory, and emotion processing in healthy volunteers with high or low schizotypy.
Perini F., Nazimek JM., Mckie S., Capitão LP., Scaife J., Pal D., Browning M., Dawson GR., Nishikawa H., Campbell U., Hopkins SC., Loebel A., Elliott R., Harmer CJ., Deakin B., Koblan KS.
Ulotaront, a trace amine-associated receptor 1 (TAAR1) and serotonin 5-HT1A receptor agonist without antagonist activity at dopamine D2 or the serotonin 5-HT2A receptors, has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of schizophrenia. Here we report the phase 1 translational studies that profiled the effect of ulotaront on brain responses to reward, working memory, and resting state connectivity (RSC) in individuals with low or high schizotypy (LS or HS). Participants were randomized to placebo (n = 32), ulotaront (50 mg; n = 30), or the D2 receptor antagonist amisulpride (400 mg; n = 34) 2 h prior to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses to task performance. Ulotaront increased subjective drowsiness, but reaction times were impaired by less than 10% and did not correlate with BOLD responses. In the Monetary Incentive Delay task (reward processing), ulotaront significantly modulated striatal responses to incentive cues, induced medial orbitofrontal responses, and prevented insula activation seen in HS subjects. In the N-Back working memory task, ulotaront modulated BOLD signals in brain regions associated with cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. Ulotaront did not show antidepressant-like biases in an emotion processing task. HS had significantly reduced connectivity in default, salience, and executive networks compared to LS participants and both drugs reduced this difference. Although performance impairment may have weakened or contributed to the fMRI findings, the profile of ulotaront on BOLD activations elicited by reward, memory, and resting state is compatible with an indirect modulation of dopaminergic function as indicated by preclinical studies. This phase 1 study supported the subsequent clinical proof of concept trial in people with schizophrenia.Clinical trial registration: Registry# and URL: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01972711, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01972711.