Monoaminergic brainstem systems have widespread projections that participate in many central processes and, when dysregulated, contribute to a plethora of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Synapses are the foundation of these neuronal circuits, and their local dysfunction results in global aberrations leading to pathophysiological disease states. This review focuses on the locus coeruleus (LC) norepinephrine (NE) brainstem system and its underappreciated role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amyloid beta (Aβ), a peptide that accumulates aberrantly in AD has recently been implicated as a modulator of neuronal excitability at the synapse. Evidence is presented showing that disruption of the LC-NE system at a synaptic and circuit level during early stages of AD, due to conditions such as chronic stress, can potentially lead to amyloid accumulation and contribute to the progression of this neurodegenerative disorder. Additional factors that impact neurodegeneration include neuroinflammation, and network de-synchronization. Consequently, targeting the LC-NE system may have significant therapeutic potential for AD, as it may facilitate modulation of Aβ production, curtail neuroinflammation, and prevent sleep and behavioral disturbances that often lead to negative patient outcomes.