Norepinephrine: A Neuromodulator That Boosts the Function of Multiple Cell Types to Optimize CNS Performance
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Norepinephrine (NE) is a neuromodulator that in multiple ways regulates the activity of neuronal and non-neuronal cells. NE participates in the rapid modulation of cortical circuits and cellular energy metabolism, and on a slower time scale in neuroplasticity and inflammation. Of the multiple sources of NE in the brain, the locus coeruleus (LC) plays a major role in noradrenergic signaling. Processes from the LC primarily release NE over widespread brain regions via non-junctional varicosities. We here review the actions of NE in astrocytes, microglial cells, and neurons based on the idea that the overarching effect of signaling from the LC is to maximize brain power, which is accomplished via an orchestrated cellular response involving most, if not all cell types in CNS.