Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 326, Issue 2, pp 541-551

First online:

Adrenoceptors and signal transduction in neurons

  • Lutz HeinAffiliated withInstitut für Exp. und Klin. Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Freiburg Email author 

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The adrenergic system is an essential regulator of neuronal, endocrine, cardiovascular, vegetative, and metabolic functions. The endogenous catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine activate G-protein-coupled receptors to transmit their signal across the plasma membrane. These adrenoceptors can be divided into three different groups: the α1-receptors (α1A, α1B, α1D), α2-receptors (α2A, α2B, α2C), and β-receptors (β1, β2, β3). This review summarizes recent findings in the field of adrenoceptor signaling in neurons and includes a discussion of receptor-associated proteins, receptor dimerization, subcellular trafficking, and fluorescence optical methods for studying the kinetics of adrenergic signaling. Spatio-temporal imaging may become an important future tool for identifying the physiological significance of these complex signaling mechanisms in vivo. Gene-targeted mouse models carrying deletions in α2-adrenoceptor have provided detailed insights into specific neuronal functions of the three α2-receptor subtypes.


Adrenoceptors Epinephrine G-protein-coupled receptors Norepinephrine Transgenic mice