What is Dopamine

What is Dopamine

This article will give you information on what exactly is dopamine along with its functions and uses. Read on.
Bodytomy Staff
What comes in your mind when you first hear the word dopamine? Most of us will be aware that it is some chemical related to the brain or something that controls the activity of brain. Well, you are right, dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in the brain. Let us know more about its functions and uses.

Dopamine Information

As mentioned above, dopamine is a neurotransmitter which plays an important role in the Central Nervous System (CNS). A neurotransmitter is a chemical found in the brain, which is used for transmitting nerves impulses or messages. This neurotransmitter is found in a variety of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) as also in human beings. George Barger and James Ewens at Wellcome Laboratories in London, are credited with the synthesis of dopamine in 1910. Whereas, Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Åke Hillarp first recognized its function as a neurotransmitter in the year 1958. D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 are the different types of dopamine receptors which function together for transmitting nerve impulses. It is believed to be instrumental in controlling several movements of the human body and also human emotions. The following are some quick facts:
  • Chemical formula ~ C6H3(OH)2-CH2-CH2-NH2
  • Chemical name ~ 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzene-1,2-diol
  • Abbreviation ~ DA
  • Other names ~ 2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethylamine; 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine; 3-hydroxytyramine; Revivan; Intropin; Oxytyramine
  • Molecular formula ~ C8H11NO2
  • Melting point ~ 262 °F
  • Molar mass ~ 153.18 g/mol
One of the most important functions of dopamine is that it helps in controlling body movements. Therefore, we find that people suffering from deficiency experience uncontrolled movements like tremors or involuntary shaking of hands and legs. Secondly, it controls the motor abilities and also the thinking abilities of a person. One can suffer from disturbances in maintaining attention in case of reduced levels of dopamine. Thirdly, this chemical also controls the brain's reward system. The brain's pleasure system is also based on the activity of dopamine. This chemical is released when one experiences pleasure of any kind. It is also a neurohormone (hormone released by neurons) which helps in the release of prolactin. Therefore, we can sum up by saying that it plays a major role in cognition, voluntary movements, motivation, concentration, attention, punishment and reward, sleep, mood, memory, and also learning. Dopamine deficiency can lead to serious health conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia.

Uses of Dopamine

The following are the general uses and also the therapeutic uses of the drug dopamine:
  • It is used for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
  • It is used to treat shock caused due to trauma or injury.
  • It can improve functioning of the heart, in case blood supply is obstructed.
  • Intravenous dopamine acts on the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in increased blood pressure and heart rate, bringing them to normal.
The neurotransmitter is not injected directly; but, its precursors are administered which stimulate the brain for its production. It is available in the form of an injectable which is used only for medical or therapeutic purposes.

With its numerous uses, dopamine can definitely be considered as one of the most important neurotransmitters in the body.