Adrenoceptors and signal transduction in neurons

Cell Tissue Res. 2006 Nov;326(2):541-51. doi: 10.1007/s00441-006-0285-2. Epub 2006 Aug 1.


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 alpha(1)-receptors (alpha(1A), alpha(1B), alpha(1D)), alpha(2)-receptors (alpha(2A), alpha(2B), alpha(2C)), and beta-receptors (beta(1), beta(2), beta(3)). 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 alpha(2)-adrenoceptor have provided detailed insights into specific neuronal functions of the three alpha(2)-receptor subtypes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epinephrine / genetics
  • Epinephrine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Microdomains / genetics
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / deficiency
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Epinephrine