Norepinephrine


Norepinephrine Molecule : Norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter as well as a hormone, is related to adrenaline (also referred to as epinephrine), known for its stimulating effects on the body. Norepinephrine is responsible for, among other things, arousal and alertness. For a long time, it was thought to be the primary neurotransmitter responsible for depression. Reduced levels of norepinephrine may partially explain the apathy seen in individuals with this and other mental disorders. Elevated levels of norepinephrine are strongly associated with anxiety disorders, which frequently coexist with depression.

Norepinephrine (NE), also called noradrenaline (NA) or noradrenalin, is an organic chemical in the catecholamine family that functions in the human brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter. The name "noradrenaline," derived from Latin roots meaning "at/alongside the kidneys," is more commonly used in the United Kingdom; in the United States, "norepinephrine," derived from Greek roots having that same meaning, is usually preferred. "Norepinephrine" is also the International Nonproprietary Name given to the drug. Regardless of which name is used for the substance itself, parts of the body that produce or are affected by it are referred to as noradrenergic.

Norepinephrine is synthesized and released by the central nervous system, and also by a division of the autonomic nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. In the brain, norepinephrine is produced in closely packed brain cell neurons or nuclei that are small yet exert powerful effects on other brain areas. The most important of these nuclei is the locus coeruleus, located in the pons. In the sympathetic nervous system, norepinephrine is used as a neurotransmitter by sympathetic ganglia located near the spinal cord or in the abdomen, and it is also released directly into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands as sympathetic effector organs. Regardless of how and where it is released, norepinephrine acts on target cells by binding to and activating noradrenergic receptors located on the cell surface.

The general function of norepinephrine is to mobilize the brain and body for action. Norepinephrine release is lowest during sleep, rises during wakefulness, and reaches much higher levels during situations of stress or danger, in the so-called fight-or-flight response. In the brain, norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention; it also increases restlessness and anxiety. In the rest of the body, norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system, and inhibits voiding of the bladder and gastrointestinal motility.

A variety of medically important drugs work by altering the actions of norepinephrine systems. Norepinephrine itself is widely used as an injectable drug for the treatment of critically low blood pressure. Beta blockers, which counter some of the effects of norepinephrine, are frequently used to treat glaucoma, migraine, and a range of cardiovascular problems. Alpha blockers, which counter a different set of norepinephrine effects, are used to treat several cardiovascular and psychiatric conditions. Alpha-2 agonists often have a sedating effect, and are commonly used as anesthesia-enhancers in surgery, as well as in treatment of drug or alcohol dependence. Many important psychiatric drugs exert strong effects on norepinephrine systems in the brain, resulting in side-effects that may be helpful or harmful.


Related Images

Biology of depression
Biology of depression
Types of Depression
Types of Depression
Depression is a real illness
Depression is a real illness
Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression
Depression - Treatment
Depression - Treatment
Factors That Play a Role in Depression
Factors That Play a Role in ...
Depression - Neuron with Normal Dendrite
Depression - Neuron with Normal ...
Depression - Neuron with Dendrite Loss
Depression - Neuron with Dendrite ...

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.