The therapeutic potential of sigma (σ) receptors for the treatment of central nervous system diseases: evaluation of the evidence

Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(7):884-901. doi: 10.2174/138161212799436539.


Since their proposal in 1976, sigma (σ) receptors have been increasingly implicated in the pathophysiology of virtually all major central nervous system (CNS) disorders, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Due to their involvement in motor function and higher cognitive function,σ receptors have also been implicated in movement disorders (such as Parkinson's disease) and memory deficits (including Alzheimer's disease). In most cases the precise mechanism(s) linking σ receptors to CNS disease are unknown or yet to be fully elucidated. However, many σ ligands have shown promise in pharmacological studies and animal models of the aforementioned diseases, and some have entered clinical trials. This review will assess the validity of receptors as a target for various CNS diseases based on evidence from animal models of human diseases, preclinical studies in humans, and full clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, sigma / agonists*
  • Receptors, sigma / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Receptors, sigma