The brainstem noradrenergic systems in stress, anxiety and depression

K. Itoi, N. Sugimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


The locus coeruleus (LC) is regarded as a part of the central 'stress circuitry' because robust activation of the LC has been reported after stressful stimuli in experimental animals. A considerable amount of clinical evidence also suggests the relationship between the central noradrenergic (NAergic) system and fear / anxiety states or depression. However, previous animal studies havenot been able to demonstrate unequivocally the involvement of the NAergic system in mediating fearor anxiety. The forebrain structures, including the hypothalamus, receive massive inputs from the medullary NAergic nuclei via the ventral NAergic bundle (VNAB). The VNAB has been implicated in the neuroendocrine stress axis mainly through its action on the corticotrophinreleasing factor neurones in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Novel tools were introduced that are capable of disrupting the NAergic system more selectively and / or thoroughly than the neurotoxins employed in previous studies: the anti-dopamine-β hydroxylase (DBH)-saporin is an immunotoxin that is taken up from nerve endings and disrupt the NAergic neurones in a retrograde manner. The genetically DBH-depleted mice were also introduced, which lack endogenous noradrenaline. Owing to the rapiddevelopment of functional imaging technique, visualisation of the emotional phenomena has become possible in human subjects. Along with the advent of these technologies, endeavors have been continued to unravel the functional relevance of the central NAergic system to stress, anxiety and depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010 May


  • 6-Hydroxydopamine
  • DSP-4
  • Depression
  • Dopamine-β hydroxylase
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Nucleus of the solitary tract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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