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Importance of Dopamine

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Importance/ Usage of Chemical:

Dopamine is a hormone that induces pleasure in the brain. It is crucial to motivation, thinking and learning of a person. The chemical dopamine plays important roles in the brain and body.Inside the brain, dopamine plays important roles in executive functions, motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement, and reward, as well as lower-level functions. (Musacchio, 1975)

Dopamine can be used for treating shock and low blood pressure due to heart attack, trauma, infections, surgery, and other causes. It is also used to help improve heart function when it is unable to pump enough blood.

Dopamine is responsible for transmitting signals between the substantia nigra and multiple brain regions. The substantia nigra is a region in the brain that looks like a black streak when the tissue is unstained. The substantia nigra is connected to parkinson’s disease, which is also connected to dopamine.

Discovery of Chemical:

Dopamine was first discovered in 1910 by George Barger and James Ewens at Wellcome Laboratories in London, England.

In 1958, Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Åke Hillarp, at the Laboratory for Chemical Pharmacology of the National Heart Institute of Sweden, discovered that dopamine was a neurotransmitter. Arvid Carlsson was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for presenting that dopamine is not just a compound that participates in a chemical reaction that produces another compound of norepinephrine and epinephrine but a neurotransmitter, as well.

This discovery was important because it later helped scientists understand dopamine’s involvement in Parkinson's disease.

Chemical Properties:

A dopamine molecule is made of a benzene ring with two hydroxyl side groups with one amino group attached by an ethyl chain. A benzene ring with an amino attachment makes it a substituted phenethylamine, which are psychoactive drugs such as antidepressants and stimulants which can cause temporary happiness.

Dopamine is an organic base. (Carter, Johnson, Basske, 1987) When placed in an acidic environment dopamine is protonated and becomes highly soluble and stable. In a basic environment, dopamine is less soluble and highly reactive. In its protonated form, dopamine can be used for pharmaceutical uses because of its high stability level. Dopamine can go through the process of self polymerization.

Environmental and Human Impact of Chemical:

Side effects of dopamine can include negative effects on kidney function and irregular heartbeats. Many drugs increase dopamine, so dopamine can cause drug addictions because of the happiness that comes with the effects of dopamine. Your brain yearns the drugs that give positive signals to the brain. Although when you think of drugs, you think overdose, in this case the shortage of dopamine can cause diseases like Parkinson’s.


Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that transport information throughout the brain. They use signals called neurons to transport information between nerve cells.

Dopamine and Epinephrine are both neurotransmitters. They are both part of a group called catecholamines. A catecholamine is a monoamine and an organic compound that has a catechol side-chain amine.

Dopamine and Epinephrine are interestingly similar in their synthesis. They both are created from Phenylalanine, to Tyrosine, to DOPA, and then dopamine is created, but epinephrine goes on further to become norepinephrine and lastly, epinephrine. Each molecule is formed with the help of enzymes, as shown in the visual.

These neurotransmitters both have a benzene ring with two hydroxyl side groups and both have similar NH tails. Epinephrine’s structure is composed of dopamine’s structure with a few chemical modifications.

Chemical Synthesis of Dopamine

Dopamine can be directly synthesised from DOPA which can be synthesised by amino acid tyrosine.

Tyrosine can be found in almost every protein and is available in most food we eat. Tyrosine is produced by the amino acid phenylalanine in our food. Tyrosine is converted to DOPA by an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase which uses tyrosine, tetrahydrobiopterin, O2, and iron to create DOPA. DOPA is then turned into dopamine by the enzyme DOPA decarboxylase which combines DOPA with pyridoxal phosphate (Bradley, 2010). The molecules explained here

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