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Reuptake - Definition of Reuptake


Updated June 13, 2014

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What is reuptake? Reuptake is a process by which chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) are absorbed back into a transmitting neuron (brain cell) after they have been released into the synapse.

When a chemical signal is being transmitted from one neuron to another, the first neuron releases a neurotransmitter into the space between the two neurons (the synapse). Once the second neuron has received the signal, any additional neurotransmitter that is left in the synapse can be reabsorbed by the first neuron. This process controls the intensity and duration of the signal being sent.

Reuptake is an important principle to understand because many medications affect the process of reuptake in order to alter the availability of particular neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; a class of antidepressant medications often prescribed for borderline personality disorder) increase the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin by slowing the reuptake of serotonin by the transmitting neuron.

Alternate Spellings: re-uptake
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