«Dopamine (DA, a contraction of 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine) is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families that plays several important roles in the brain and body. It is an amine synthesized by removing a carboxyl group from a molecule of its precursor chemicalL-DOPA, which is synthesized in the brain and kidney. Dopamine is also synthesized in plants and most animals. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cell) to send signals to other nerve cell. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. The anticipation of most types of rewards increases the level of dopamine in the brain, and many addictivedrugs increase dopamine release or block its reuptake into neurons following release. Other brain dopamine pathways are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of various hormone. These pathways and cell groups form a dopamine system which is neuromodulatory.
In popular culture and media, dopamine is often seen as the main chemical of pleasure, but the current opinion in pharmacology is that dopamine instead confers motivational salience; in other words, dopamine signals the perceived motivational prominence (i.e., the desirability or aversiveness) of an outcome, which in turn propels the organism's behavior toward or away from achieving that outcome.
Outside the central nervous system, dopamine functions primarily as a local paracrine messenger. In blood vessels, it inhibits norepinephrine release and acts as a vasodilator (at normal concentration); in the kidney, it increases sodium excretion and urine output; in the pancreas, it reduces insulin production; in the digestive system, it reduces gastrointestinal motility and protects intestinal mucosa; and in the immune system, it reduces the activity of lymphocytes. With the exception of the blood vessels, dopamine in each of these peripheral systems is synthesized locally and exerts its effects near the cell that release it.
Several important diseases of the nervous system are associated with dysfunctions of the dopamine system, and some of the key medications used to treat them work by altering the effects of dopamine. Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition causing tremor and motor impairment, is caused by a loss of dopamine-secreting neurons in an area of the midbrain called the substantia nigra. Its metabolic precursor L-DOPA can be manufactured; Levodopa, a pure form of L-DOPA, is the most widely used treatment for Parkinson's. There is evidence that schizophrenia involves altered levels of dopamine activity, and most antipsychotic drugs used to treat this are dopamine antagonists which reduce dopamine activity. Similar dopamine antagonist drugs are also some of the most effective anti-nausea agents. Restless legs syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with decreased dopamine activity.Dopaminergicstimulants can be addictive in high doses, but some are used at lower doses to treat ADHD. Dopamine itself is available as a manufactured medication for intravenous injection: although it cannot reach the brain from the bloodstream, its peripheral effects make it useful in the treatment of heart failure or shock, especially in newborn babies.
A dopamine molecule consists of a catechol structure (a benzene ring with two hydroxyl side groups) with one amine group attached via an ethyl chain. As such, dopamine is the simplest possible catecholamine, a family that also includes the neurotransmittersnorepinephrine and epinephrine. The presence of a benzene ring with this amine attachment makes it a substituted phenethylamine, a family that includes numerous psychoactive drugs.
Like most amines, dopamine is an organic base. As a base, it is generally protonated in acidic environment (in an acid-base reaction). The protonated form is highly water-soluble and relatively stable, but can become oxidized if exposed to oxygen or other oxidants. In basic environment, dopamine is not protonated. In this free base form, it is less water-soluble and also more highly reactive. Because of the increased stability and water-solubility of the protonated form, dopamine is supplied for chemical or pharmaceutical use as dopamine hydrochloride—that is, the hydrochloridesalt that is created when dopamine is combined with hydrochloric acid. In dry form, dopamine hydrochloride is a fine colorless powder.
Dopamine is synthesized in a restricted set of cell types, mainly neurons and cell in the medulla of the adrenal glands. The primary and minor metabolic pathways respectively are:
The direct precursor of dopamine, L-DOPA, can be synthesized indirectly from the essential amino acidphenylalanine or directly from the non-essential amino acid tyrosine. These amino acids are found in nearly every protein and so are readily available in food, with tyrosine being the most common. Although dopamine is also found in many types of food, it is incapable of crossing the blood–brain barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. It must therefore be synthesized inside the brain to perform its neuronal activity.
L-Phenylalanine is converted into L-tyrosine by the enzymephenylalanine hydroxylase, with molecular oxygen (O2) and tetrahydrobiopterin as cofactors. L-Tyrosine is converted into L-DOPA by the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase, with tetrahydrobiopterin, O2, and iron (Fe2+) as cofactors.L-DOPA is converted into dopamine by the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (also known as DOPA decarboxylase), with pyridoxal phosphate as the cofactor.
Dopamine itself is used as precursor in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is converted into norepinephrine by the enzyme dopamine β-hydroxylase, with O2 and L-ascorbic acid as cofactors. Norepinephrine is converted into epinephrine by the enzyme phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase with S-adenosyl-L-methionine as the cofactor.
Some of the cofactors also require their own synthesis. Deficiency in any required amino acid or cofactor can impair the synthesis of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
Dopamine is broken down into inactive metabolites by a set of enzymes—monoamine oxidase (MAO), catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT), and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), acting in sequence. Both isoforms of monoamine oxidase, MAO-A and MAO-B, effectively metabolize dopamine. Different breakdown pathways exist but the main end-product is homovanillic acid (HVA), which has no known biological activity. From the bloodstream, homovanillic acid is filtered out by the kidney and then excreted in the urine. The two primary metabolic routes that convert dopamine into HVA are:» (wikipedia)
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Guide for Good Sources list of respected domains.
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- Dopamine Mindmap — near connections
- Mindmap with ValidityScore 5.0 — near connections
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