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FIGURE 1–3. The serotonergic system.This figure depicts the location of the major serotonin (5-HT)–producing cells (raphe nuclei) innervating brain structures (A), and various cellular regulatory processes involved in serotonergic neurotransmission (B). 5-HT neurons project widely throughout the CNS and innervate virtually every part of the neuroaxis. l-Tryptophan, an amino acid actively transported into presynaptic 5-HT-containing terminals, is the precursor for 5-HT. It is converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) by the rate-limiting enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase (TrpH). This enzyme is effectively inhibited by the drug p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA). Aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) converts 5-HTP to 5-HT. Once released from the presynaptic terminal, 5-HT can interact with a variety (15 different types) of presynaptic and postsynaptic receptors. Presynaptic regulation of 5-HT neuron firing activity and release occurs through somatodendritic 5-HT1A (not shown) and 5-HT1B,1D autoreceptors, respectively, located on nerve terminals. Sumatriptan is a 5-HT1B,1D receptor agonist. (The antimigraine effects of this agent are likely mediated by local activation of this receptor subtype on blood vessels, which results in their constriction.) Buspirone is a partial 5-HT1A agonist that activates both pre- and postsynaptic receptors. Cisapride is a preferential 5-HT4 receptor agonist that is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome as well as nausea associated with antidepressants. The binding of 5-HT to G protein receptors (Go, Gi, etc.) that are coupled to adenylyl cyclase (AC) and phospholipase C– (PLC-) will result in the production of a cascade of second-messenger and cellular effects. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) likely interacts with numerous 5-HT receptors to mediate its effects. Pharmacologically this ligand is often used as a 5-HT2 receptor agonist in receptor binding experiments. Ondansetron is a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist that is marketed as an antiemetic agent for chemotherapy patients but is also given to counteract side effects produced by antidepressants in some patients. 5-HT has its action terminated in the synapse by rapidly being taken back into the presynaptic neuron through 5-HT transporters (5-HTT). Once inside the neuron, it can either be repackaged into vesicles for reuse or undergo enzymatic catabolism. The selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and older-generation tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are able to interfere/block the reuptake of 5-HT. 5-HT is then metabolized to 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) by monoamine oxidase (MAO), located on the outer membrane of mitochondria or sequestered and stored in secretory vesicles by vesicle monoamine transporters (VMATs). Reserpine causes a depletion of 5-HT in vesicles by interfering with uptake and storage mechanisms (depressive-like symptoms have been reported with this agent). Tranylcypromine is an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) and an effective antidepressant. Fenfluramine (an anorectic agent) and MDMA ("Ecstasy") are able to facilitate 5-HT release by altering 5-HTT function. DAG = diacylglycerol; 5-HTT = serotonin transporter; IP3 = inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate.Source. Adapted from Cooper JR, Bloom FE, Roth RH: The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, 7th Edition. New York, Oxford University Press, 2001. Copyright 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. Modified from Nestler et al. 2001.

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