Dopamine (C8H11NO2) is a monoamine neurotransmitter in the brain and a member of the catecholamine family. Catecholamines are molecules that serve as neurotransmitters and hormones. Monoamines are compounds that contain nitrogen formed by replacing one or more of the Hydrogen atoms on ammonia (NH3). Dopamine itself is formed by the decarboxylation (removal of a -COOH group) from dihydroxyphenylalanine, whose common acronym is DOPA. Dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline, or epinephrine, and noradrenaline, or norepinephrine. Adrenaline is a stress hormone, part of the fight or flight mechanism. One of the many functions of noradrenaline is increasing the rate of contraction of the heart.
Parkinson’s Disease is believed to be caused by low levels of dopamine in certain regions of the brain. Treatment involves the use of dopa, which, after it crosses the blood-brain barrier, can be converted into dopamine. This increase in concentration can lessen movement disorders associated with the disease as well as improving nerve conduction.
- Sleep Deprived? Mind your dopamine. (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Brain’s dopamine may explain why some are “slackers” at work – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- The Four Happiness Neurotransmitters and Your Brain (bowentherapyrd.wordpress.com)
- Consciousness-Raising: Kick-Starting the Brain’s Dopamine System May Revive Some Vegetative Patients (scientificamerican.com)