Introduction: Revision of an Old Transmitter

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The discovery of norepinephrine dates back to the late 1940s when the Swedish scientist, Ulf Svante von Euler first demonstrated that neurons of the sympathetic nervous system use norepinephrine, rather than epinephrine, as a neurotransmitter. Shortly thereafter in 1947, Peter Wilhelm Joseph Holtz demonstrated that norepinephrine occurred in the brain. Today, we know it is one of three major cate-cholamine (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) neurotransmitters found in the central nervous system (CNS). Over 50 years of subsequent research has led to an enormous accumulation of information regarding norepinephrine and its role in physiological and behavioral processes. In addition, drugs that directly manipulate brain norepinephrine have been used therapeutically for over 50 years, and even today, drugs are being developed that target noradrenergic neurons to deliver therapeutic effects. In fact, new disease indications continue to be identified for existing and newer noradrenergic drugs.

Given the revered tenure of this relatively old neurotransmitter and the recent advances and subsequent theories about its contribution to health and disease in the CNS, the authors of this book decided the time was right to bring together historical and recent information about norepinephrine in one book. The intention of this volume is to provide the reader with a thorough understanding of the anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, and therapeutics of norepinephrine in the CNS, including an extensive review of the role of norepinephrine in diseases of the CNS.