The adrenergic system has an important role in normal central nervous system function as
well as in brain disease. The locus coeruleus, the main source of norepinephrine in brain, is involved in
the regulation of learning and memory, reinforcement of sleep-wake cycle and synaptic plasticity. In
Alzheimer’s disease, locus coeruleus degeneration is observed early in the course of the disease, years
before the onset of clinical cognitive signs, with neurofibrillary detected at the stage of mild cognitive
impairment, preceding amyloid deposition. Thus, in the last years, a great interest has grown in evaluating the possibility
of central adrenergic system modulation as a therapeutic tool in Alzheimer’s disease. However, evidences do not show
univocal results, with some studies suggesting that adrenergic stimulation might be beneficial in Alzheimer’s Disease and
some others favoring adrenergic blockade. In this review, we summarize data from both hypothesis and describe the
pathophysiological role of the adrenergic system in neurodegeneration.
Keywords: Adrenergic receptors, Alzheimer’s disease, beta-blockers, functional recovery, locus coeruleus, neurodegeneration.
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