The distinct roles of monoamines in multiple sclerosis: A bridge between the immune and nervous systems?

Tiziana Carandini, Mara Cercignani, Daniela Galimberti, Elio Scarpini, Marco Bozzali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The monoaminergic neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin are pivotal actors of the interplay between the nervous and the immune system due to their ability of binding to cell-receptors of both systems, crucially regulating their function within the central nervous system and the periphery. As monoamines are dysfunctional in many neurological and psychiatric diseases, they have been successfully used as pharmacological targets. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the best examples of neurological disease caused by an altered interaction between the nervous and immune system and emerging evidence supports a dysregulation of monoaminergic systems in the pathogenesis of MS, secondary to both inflammation-induced reduction of monoamines’ synthesis and structural damage to monoaminergic pathways within the brain. Here we review the evidence for monoamines being key mediators of neuroimmune interaction, affecting MS pathogenesis and course. Moreover, we discuss how the reduction/dysfunction of monoamines in MS may contribute to some clinical features typical of the disease, particularly fatigue and depression. Finally, we summarize different drugs targeting monoamines that are currently under evaluation for their potential efficacy to treat MS, as well as to alleviate fatigue and depression in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Fatigue
  • Monoamines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Noradrenaline
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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