Neurotransmitters Receptors Signal Transduction And Second Messengers In Psychiatric Disorders Introduction

This chapter serves as a primer on the recent advances in our understanding of neural function both in health and in disease. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to cover these important areas in extensive detail, and readers are referred to outstanding textbooks that are entirely devoted to the topic (Cooper et al. 2001; Kandel et al. 2000; Nestler et al. 2001; Squire et al. 2003). Here, we focus on the principles of neurotransmission and second-messenger generation that we believe are critical for an understanding of the biological bases of major psychiatric disorders, as well as the mechanisms by which effective treatments may exert their beneficial effects. In particular, it is our goal to lay the groundwork for the subsequent chapters, which focus on individual disorders and their treatments.

Although this chapter is intended to provide a general overview on neurotransmitter and second-messenger function, whenever possible we emphasize the neuropsychiatric relevance of specific observations. In the chapter proper, we outline principles that are of utmost importance to the study and practice of psychopharmacology; in the figure legends, we provide additional details for the interested reader.

[The work presented in this chapter was undertaken under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Program. Dr. Manji is now at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development.

The authors thank Ioline Henter for assistance in the preparation of this chapter.]

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