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Pharmacol Ther. 2001 Jul;91(1):35-62.

The role of neuronal and extraneuronal plasma membrane transporters in the inactivation of peripheral catecholamines.

Author information

  • Clinical Neurocardiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Building 10, Room 6N 252, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1620, Bethesda, MD 20892-1620, USA. ge@box-g.nih.gov


Catecholamines are translocated across plasma membranes by transporters that belong to two large families with mainly neuronal or extraneuronal locations. In mammals, neuronal uptake of catecholamines involves the dopamine transporter (DAT) at dopaminergic neurons and the norepinephrine transporter (NET) at noradrenergic neurons. Extraneuronal uptake of catecholamines is mediated by organic cation transporters (OCTs), including the classic corticosterone-sensitive extraneuronal monoamine transporter. Catecholamine transporters function as part of uptake and metabolizing systems primarily responsible for inactivation of transmitter released by neurons. Additionally, the neuronal catecholamine transporters, recycle catecholamines for rerelease, thereby reducing requirements for transmitter synthesis. In a broader sense, catecholamine transporters function as part of integrated systems where catecholamine synthesis, release, uptake, and metabolism are regulated in a coordinated fashion in response to the demands placed on the system. Location is also important to function. Neuronal transporters are essential for rapid termination of the signal in neuronal-effector organ transmission, whereas non-neuronal transporters are more important for limiting the spread of the signal and for clearance of catecholamines from the bloodstream. Besides their presynaptic locations, NET and DAT are also present at several extraneuronal locations, including syncytiotrophoblasts of the placenta and endothelial cells of the lung (NET), stomach and pancreas (DAT). The extraneuronal monoamine transporter shows a broad tissue distribution, whereas the other two non-neuronal catecholamine transporters (OCT1 and OCT2) are mainly localized to the liver, kidney, and intestine. Altered function of peripheral catecholamine transporters may be involved in disturbances of the autonomic nervous system, such as occurs in congestive heart failure and hypernoradrenergic hypertension. Peripheral catecholamine transporters provide important targets for clinical imaging of sympathetic nerves and diagnostic localization and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors, such as neuroblastomas and pheochromocytomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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