Genetic approaches to studying norepinephrine function: knockout of the mouse norepinephrine transporter gene

Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Nov 1;46(9):1124-30. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(99)00245-0.


Norepinephrine is an important chemical messenger in the nervous system. It regulates affective states, learning and memory, endocrine and autonomic functions. It has been implicated in depression, aggression, and addiction, as well as cardiac and thermal dysregulation. The norepinephrine transporter functions by uptaking norepinephrine back into the cell for cyclic use, and is a direct target of a number of antidepressants and psychostimulants. Functional deletion (knockout) of monamine transporters results in increases in extracellular levels of neurotransmitters, thereby prolonging their actions. For the norepinephrine transporter knockout mice, this altered state of the norepinephrine system should simulate the therapeutic effects of norepinephrine selective antidepressants and some of the effects of psychostimulants. Careful use of such an animal model can hopefully provide valuable insight into the multiple roles norepinephrine plays in normal and pathological physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Depression / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout* / genetics
  • Mice, Knockout* / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics
  • Norepinephrine / biosynthesis
  • Norepinephrine / genetics*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Phenotype


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Norepinephrine