• Open Access

Relevance of Norepinephrine–Dopamine Interactions in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder


Correspondence: Mostafa El Mansari, Ph.D., University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Room 7407, 1145 Carling Avenue, Ottawa ON K1Z 7K4, Canada. Tel.: 613-722-6521, ext 6179; Fax: 613-761-3610; E-mail: mostafa.elmansari@rohcg.on.ca


Central dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems play essential roles in controlling several forebrain functions. Consequently, perturbations of these neurotransmissions may contribute to the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. For many years, there was a focus on the serotonin (5-HT) system because of the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most prescribed antidepressants in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Given the interconnectivity within the monoaminergic network, any action on one system may reverberate in the other systems. Analysis of this network and its dysfunctions suggests that drugs with selective or multiple modes of action on dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) may have robust therapeutic effects. This review focuses on NE-DA interactions as demonstrated in electrophysiological and neurochemical studies, as well as on the mechanisms of action of agents with either selective or dual actions on DA and NE. Understanding the mode of action of drugs targeting these catecholaminergic neurotransmitters can improve their utilization in monotherapy and in combination with other compounds particularly the SSRIs. The elucidation of such relationships can help design new treatment strategies for MDD, especially treatment-resistant depression.