Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Nadia WebbEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1752


Adaptation; Desensitization; “Poop out” syndrome; Receptor down-regulation; Refractoriness; Tolerance


Tachyphylaxis is the continued or repeated exposure to a drug that may lead to a weakened pharmacological response. This is presumed to be a consequence of diminished receptor sensitivity in response to consistent stimulation by a drug agonist, which produces a diminished pharmacological response in consequence. This is distinct from tolerance. This desensitization process can be a consequence of a decrease in the number of receptors or an attenuation of the response because the drug has promoted neurotransmitter release in excess of presynaptic production. The presence of certain enzymes can limit cyclic AMP-based signaling, disrupt second messenger systems, and diminish the availability of receptors at the cell membrane.

Tachyphylaxis appears to be an idiosyncratic process. For example, repeated administration of tyramine, which is a protein precursor to...

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References and Readings

  1. Brunton, L. B., Lazo, J. S., & Parker, K. L. (Eds.). (2005). Goodman & Gilman’s the pharmacological basis of therapeutics (11th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  2. Stahl, S. M. (2008). Stahl’s essential psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific basis and practical applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Children’s Hospital of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA