Aripiprazole Use in Children and Adolescents

Marcia L. Buck, Pharm.D., FCCP


Pediatr Pharm. 2004;9(12) 

In This Article


On November 15, 2002, the newest of the atypical antipsychotics, aripiprazole, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of schizophrenia. It has subsequently been approved for use in the treatment of bipolar mania as well.[1] This agent has been shown to be similar in efficacy to traditional antipsychotics as well as other atypical antipsychotics, but offers an improved adverse effect profile.[1,2,3,4] There is growing interest in the use of aripiprazole in children with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and conduct disorders.

Although the exact mechanism by which the atypical antipsychotics produce improvement in schizophrenia is unknown, they appear to work through interaction with both dopaminergic and serotonergic receptors within the central nervous system. Aripiprazole has a unique binding profile compared to the other atypical antipsychotics. It is a high-affinity partial agonist at both dopamine (D2) and serotonin (5-HT1A) receptors and acts as an antagonist at 5-HT2A receptors. Aripiprazole also exhibits affinity for D3, D4, 5-HT2C and 5-HT7, alpha1-adrenergic and histamine (H1) receptors.[2,3,4]