The Role of Phosphodiesterase-2 in Psychiatric and Neurodegenerative Disorders

Adv Neurobiol. 2017:17:307-347. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-58811-7_12.


Cyclic nucleotide PDEs are a super-family of enzymes responsible for regulating intracellular levels of the second messengers cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Through their catalysis, PDEs are able to exert tight regulation over these important intracellular signaling cascades. Previously, PDEs have been implicated in learning and memory, as well as in mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. PDE2 is of special interest due to its high level of expression in the forebrain, specifically in the isocortex, entorhinal cortex, striatum, hippocampus, amygdala, and medial habenula. Many of these brain regions are considered participants of the limbic system, which is known as the emotional regulatory center of the brain, and is important for modulating emotion and long-term memory. Therefore, PDE2s coincidental expression in these areas suggests an important role for PDE2 in these behaviors, and researchers are continuing to uncover the complex connections. It was shown that PDE2 inhibitors have pro-cognitive effects in tests of memory, including the object recognition test. PDE2 inhibitors are also protective against cognitive deficits in various models of cognitive impairment. Additionally, PDE2 inhibitors are protective against many different forms of stress-induced anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors. Currently, there is a great need for novel therapeutics for the treatment of mood and cognitive disorders, especially anxiety and depression, and other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and PDE2 is emerging as a viable target for future drug development for many of these diseases.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; HPA axis; Memory and cognition; PDE2; Pain; Stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*


  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 2
  • Cyclic GMP