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FIGURE 1–12. cAMP signaling pathway.Receptors can be positively (e.g., -adrenergic, D1) or negatively (e.g., 5-HT1A, D2) coupled to adenylyl cyclase (AC) to regulate cAMP levels. The effects of cAMP are mediated largely by activation of protein kinase A (PKA). One major downstream target of PKA is CREB (cAMP response element–binding protein). After activation, the phosphorylated CREB binds to the cAMP response element (CRE), a gene sequence found in the promoter of certain genes; data suggest that antidepressants may activate CREB, thereby bringing about increased expression of a major target gene, BDNF. Phosphodiesterase is an enzyme that breaks down cAMP to AMP. Some antidepressant treatments have been found to upregulate phosphodiesterase. Drugs like rolipram, which inhibit phosphodiesterase, may be useful as adjunct treatments for depression. Forskolin is an agent used in preclinical research to stimulate adenylyl cyclase.

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