Chronic administration of noradrenergic antidepressants causes a desensitization of the beta adrenoceptor coupled adenylate cyclase system. In the present studies, we attempted to answer the question of whether or not this deamplification is reflected beyond the second messenger system. Nuclear CREB-P was determined in frontal cortex of rats following acute and chronic administration of desipramine (DMI) or reboxetine and in human fibroblasts following incubation for 48 hours with DMI, reboxetine or venlafaxine. Nuclear CREB-P in the frontal cortex was significantly decreased following chronic administration of DMI or reboxetine. Moreover, incubation of human fibroblasts with DMI or reboxetine, but not with venlafaxine, caused a highly significant reduction in nuclear CREB-P suggesting that the noradrenergic antidepressants exert direct effects beyond beta adrenoceptors. The results are consistent with the view that chronic treatment with antidepressants causes a net deamplification of the norepinephrine mediated signal transduction cascade which might "normalize" the increased noradrenergic activity evident in major depression.