, Volume 79, Issue 15, pp 1657–1677 | Cite as

Dopamine Receptor Partial Agonists for the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

  • Jean-Michel AzorinEmail author
  • Nicolas Simon
Review Article


Bipolar disorder is a chronic, disabling, and costly illness with frequent relapses and recurrences, high rates of co-morbid conditions, and poor adherence to treatment. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics are the cornerstones of treatment. Dopamine receptor partial agonists are a novel class of antipsychotic agents with original pharmacodynamic properties. Among them, two have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Aripiprazole (oral formulation) has been approved as monotherapy for the treatment of manic/mixed episodes in adult and pediatric populations and for maintenance treatment in adults, and as adjunctive treatment to mood stabilizers, for the acute treatment of manic/mixed episodes and for maintenance in adults. An intramuscular formulation of aripiprazole has been approved for the treatment of agitation in mania and a long-acting injectable formulation has been approved as maintenance treatment. In the USA, cariprazine has been approved as monotherapy for the acute treatment of manic/mixed as well as bipolar depressive episodes. Brexpiprazole is not yet approved to treat bipolar disorder. The evidence supporting these indications is reviewed via an analysis of clinical registration trials as well as additional studies, on the basis of a systematic literature search. Further studies dealing with other aspects of bipolar illness are also presented. Aripiprazole and cariprazine are efficacious and generally well tolerated agents that have shown cost effectiveness, and may therefore enrich our therapeutic armamentarium for bipolar illness. Brexpiprazole, which displays an overall promising tolerability profile, deserves further efficacy studies.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were received to assist with the analysis or with the preparation of the manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

Jean-Michel Azorin has received honoraria or research or educational conference grants from Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Takeda, Janssen, Novartis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Servier, and Sanofi Aventis. Nicolas Simon has received honoraria or research or educational conference grants from Lundbeck, Otsuka, and Ethypharm.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatrySainte Marguerite HospitalMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Aix Marseille Univ, INSERM, IRD, SESSTIM, Hôpital Sainte Marguerite, Service de Pharmacologie Clinique, CAPMarseilleFrance

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