Noradrenergic and serotonergic mechanisms in the neurobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder and resilience

Brain Res. 2009 Oct 13;1293:13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.03.044. Epub 2009 Mar 28.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized mainly by symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal as a consequence of catastrophic and traumatic events that are distinguished from ordinary stressful life events. Although extensive research has already been done, the etiology of PTSD remains unclear. Research on the impact of trauma on neurobiological systems can be expected to inform the development of treatments that are directed specifically to symptoms of PTSD. During the past 25 years there has been a dramatic increase in the knowledge about noradrenergic and serotonergic mechanisms in stress response, PTSD and more recently in resilience and this knowledge has justified the use of antidepressants with monoaminergic mechanisms of action for patients with PTSD. Nevertheless, available treatments of PTSD are only to some extent effective and enhanced understanding of the neurobiology of PTSD may lead to the development of improved treatments for these patients. In the present review, we aim to close existing gaps between basic research in psychopathology, neurobiology and treatment development with the ultimate goal to translate basic research into clinically relevant findings which may directly benefit patients with PTSD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine