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J Neurosci. 2001 Jul 1;21(13):4875-82.

The alpha(2a)-adrenergic receptor plays a protective role in mouse behavioral models of depression and anxiety.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Center for Molecular Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-6600, USA.


The noradrenergic system is involved in the regulation of many physiological and psychological processes, including the modulation of mood. The alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors (alpha(2)-ARs) modulate norepinephrine release, as well as the release of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and are therefore potential targets for antidepressant and anxiolytic drug development. The current studies were undertaken to examine the role of the alpha(2A) subtype of alpha(2)-AR in mouse behavioral models of depression and anxiety. We have observed that the genetic knock-out of the alpha(2A)-AR makes mice less active in a modified version of Porsolt's forced swim test and insensitive to the antidepressant effects of the tricyclic drug imipramine in this paradigm. Furthermore, alpha(2A)-AR knock-out mice appear more anxious than wild-type C57 Bl/6 mice in the rearing and light-dark models of anxiety after injection stress. These findings suggest that the alpha(2A)-AR may play a protective role in some forms of depression and anxiety and that the antidepressant effects of imipramine may be mediated by the alpha(2A)-AR.

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