Emerging targets for antidepressant therapies

Jeffrey J. Rakofsky, Paul E. Holtzheimer, Charles B. Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Despite adequate antidepressant monotherapy, the majority of depressed patients do not achieve remission. Even optimal and aggressive therapy leads to a substantial number of patients who show minimal and often only transient improvement. In order to address this substantial problem of treatment-resistant depression, a number of novel targets for antidepressant therapy have emerged as a consequence of major advances in the neurobiology of depression. Three major approaches to uncover novel therapeutic interventions are: first, optimizing the modulation of monoaminergic neurotransmission; second, developing medications that act upon neurotransmitter systems other than monoaminergic circuits; and third, using focal brain stimulation to directly modulate neuronal activity. We review the most recent data on novel therapeutic compounds and their antidepressant potential. These include triple monoamine reuptake inhibitors, atypical antipsychotic augmentation, and dopamine receptor agonists. Compounds affecting extra-monoamine neurotransmitter systems include CRF1 receptor antagonists, glucocorticoid receptor antagonists, substance P receptor antagonists, NMDA receptor antagonists, nemifitide, omega-3 fatty acids, and melatonin receptor agonists. Focal brain stimulation therapies include vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetic seizure therapy (MST), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-302
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Opinion in Chemical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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