Asenapine, sold under the brand name Saphris, is an atypical antipsychotic medication used primarily to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Asenapine works by affecting the activity of certain neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and serotonin, in the brain. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that play essential roles in regulating mood, cognition, and behavior. Imbalances in dopamine and serotonin levels are believed to be involved in the development of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
As an atypical antipsychotic, asenapine has a complex mechanism of action. It acts as an antagonist at multiple receptor types, including dopamine (D2) receptors, serotonin (5-HT2A, 5-HT2C, 5-HT6, and 5-HT7) receptors, and adrenergic (α1 and α2) receptors. By blocking these receptors, asenapine helps to normalize the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia and stabilizing mood in bipolar disorder.
Asenapine is unique among antipsychotics due to its sublingual (under the tongue) administration. The sublingual tablet dissolves quickly and allows the drug to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract and first-pass metabolism in the liver. This route of administration may help improve the drug’s bioavailability and reduce some side effects associated with other oral antipsychotics.
In summary, asenapine (Saphris) is an atypical antipsychotic that works by modulating the activity of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, helping to alleviate symptoms and stabilize mood.