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Definition of Reuptake

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reuptake: The reabsorption of a secreted substance by the cell that originally produced and secreted it. The process of reuptake, for example, affects serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger). It is produced by nerve cells in the brain and is used by nerves to communicate with one another. A nerve releases the serotonin that it has produced into the space surrounding it. The serotonin either travels across that space and attaches to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or it attaches to receptors on the surface of the nerve that produced it, to be taken up by the nerve, recycled, and released again. This process is referred to as reuptake. A balance is reached for serotonin between attachment to the nearby nerves and reuptake. A medication that acts as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) blocks the reuptake of serotonin and thereby changes the level of serotonin in the brain.

Reuptake is sometimes written as re-uptake.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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