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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1997 Apr;7 Suppl 1:S3-9; discussion S71-3.

Is there a role for a pure noradrenergic drug in the treatment of depression?

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  • Imperial College of Medicine at St Mary's, London, UK.


Depression is thought to result from a dysfunction in the noradrenergic or serotonergic systems. The noradrenergic system appears to be associated with increased drive, whereas the serotonergic system relates more to changes in mood and it is possible that the different symptoms of depression may benefit from drugs acting mainly on one or other of the neurotransmitter systems. A series of studies has shown that interruption of serotonin synthesis compromises the efficacy of serotonin but not noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, and interruption of noradrenaline synthesis compromises the efficacy of noradrenaline but not serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This suggests that the two classes of drugs owe their activity to functional changes in different neurotransmitter systems. Reboxetine represents a new class of drugs-the selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (NARIs). It acts specifically at noradrenergic sites unlike the non-selective tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). NARIs have a role in the treatment of depression, either alone or as adjunctive therapy.

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