The role of monoamines in the actions of established and "novel" antidepressant agents: a critical review
Millan MJ.
Psychopharmacology Department,
IdR Servier, 125 Chemin de Ronde,
Croissy/Seine, Paris 78290, France.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2004 Oct 1;500(1-3):371-


Monoaminergic pathways are highly responsive to aversive stimuli and play a crucial role in the control of affect, cognition, endocrine secretion, chronobiotic rhythms, appetite, and motor function, all of which are profoundly disrupted in depressive states. Accordingly, a perturbation of monoaminergic transmission is implicated in the aetiology of depressive disorders, and all clinically available antidepressants increase corticolimbic availability of monoamines. However, their limited efficacy, delayed onset of action, and undesirable side effects underlie ongoing efforts to identify improved therapeutic agents. Sequencing the human genome has raised the hope not only of better symptomatic control of depression, but even of the prevention or cure of depressive states. In the pursuit of these goals, there is currently a tendency to focus on selective ligands of "novel" nonmonoaminergic targets. However, certain classes of novel agent (such as neurokinin(1) receptor antagonists) indirectly modulate the activity of monoaminergic networks. Others may act "downstream" of them, converging onto common cellular substrates controlling gene expression, synaptic plasticity, and neurogenesis. Further, by analogy to the broad-based actions of currently employed drugs, multitarget agents may be better adapted than selective agents to the management of depression-a complex disorder with hereditary, developmental, and environmental origins. It is, thus, important to continue the creative exploration of clinically validated and innovative monoaminergic strategies within a multitarget framework. In this light, drugs combining monoaminergic and nonmonoaminergic mechanisms of action may be of particular interest. The present article provides a critical overview of monoaminergic strategies for the treatment of depressive states, both established and under development, and discusses interactions of novel "nonmonoaminergic" antidepressants with monoaminergic mechanisms.
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