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Adrenergic Pharmacology: Focus on the Central Nervous System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2014


Norepinephrine and epinephrine are involved in the control of several important functions of the central nervous system (CNS), including sleep, arousal, mood, appetite, and autonomic outflow. Catecholamines control these functions through activation of a family of adrenergic receptors (ARs). The ARs are divided into three subfamilies (α1, α2, and β) based on their pharmacologic properties, signaling mechanisms, and structure. ARs in the CNS are targets for several therapeutic agents used in the treatment of depression, obesity, hypertension, and other diseases. Not much is known, however, about the role of specific AR sub-types in the actions of these drugs. In this paper, we provide an overview of adrenergic pharmacology in the CNS, focusing on the pharmacologic properties of subtype-selective AR agonists and antagonists, the accessibility of these drugs to the CNS, and the distribution of ARs in different areas of the brain.

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