Noradrenergic mechanisms in the pathophysiology of post-traumatic stress disorder

Neuropsychobiology. 2004;50(4):273-83. doi: 10.1159/000080952.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychiatric illness that may develop in individuals after exposure to a traumatic event. Recent data suggest that trauma and/or long-term stressors can cause alterations in the functioning of neuroanatomical structures and neural networks throughout the central nervous system. Specifically, dysregulation in central and perhaps, peripheral noradrenergic neural networks has been implicated as the cause of specific symptom clusters in the pathophysiology of PTSD. In this review, both clinical and preclinical data are presented to highlight types of noradrenergic dysfunction observed in individuals with PTSD. Additionally, the role of noradrenaline dysregulation in the acquisition/initiation, and maintenance of hyperarousal and reexperiencing symptom clusters in PTSD will be addressed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
  • Locus Coeruleus / metabolism
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*


  • Norepinephrine