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Serotonin-Dopamine Interaction as a Focus of Novel Antidepressant Drugs

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Central serotonergic and dopaminergic systems play a critical role in the regulation of normal and abnormal behavior. Recent evidence suggests that a dysfunction of dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmitter systems contributes to various pathological conditions. Among the multiple classes of 5-HT receptors described in the central nervous system, much attention has been devoted to the role of 5-HT2 receptor family in the control of central dopaminergic activity, because of the moderate to dense localization of both transcript and protein for 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors in the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA), as well as their terminal regions. Moreover, modulation of 5-HT2 receptor function by various drugs that has been shown to influence DA function in these brain areas is thought to be important in motor activation, motivation, and reward. Indeed, a number of electrophysiological and biochemical data have shown that 5-HT2C receptor agonists decrease, while 5-HT2C receptor antagonists enhance mesocorticolimbic DA function. Recent studies have focused on the functional interaction between the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems to explain the mechanism of the antidepressant action of SSRIs and 5-HT2 antagonists. In this article, the most relevant data regarding the role of these receptors in the control of brain DA function are reviewed, and the importance of this subject in the search of new antidepressant drugs is discussed.

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Keywords: 5-HT2C receptors; Antidepressants; Dopaminergic function; Mesocorticolimbic system; SSRIs; Serotonergic function

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri", Consorzio "Mario Negri" Sud, 66030 Santa Maria Imbaro (Chieti), Italy.

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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