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From Wikipedia

Dopamine is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families that plays several important roles in the brain and body. Its name is derived from its chemical structure: it is an amine synthesized by removing a carboxyl group from a molecule of its precursor chemical L-DOPA, which is synthesized in the brain and kidneys. Dopamine is also synthesised in plants and most multicellular animals.

In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and most addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity. Other brain dopamine pathways are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of various hormones. The pathways and cell groups make up a dopamine system which is neuromodulatory.

Outside the nervous system, dopamine functions in several parts of the body as a local chemical messenger. In blood vessels, it inhibits norepinephrine release and acts as a vasodilator (at normal concentrations); in the kidneys, 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 cells 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, and in its pure form marketed as Levodopa is the most widely used treatment for the condition. There is evidence that schizophrenia involves altered levels of dopamine activity, and most antipsychotic drugs that are frequently used to treat it have a primary effect of reducing 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. Dopaminergic stimulants 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.

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Other names

4-(2-Aminoethyl)-1,2-benzenediol (IUPAC Name); 4-(2-Aminoethyl)-1,2-benzoldiol; 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzene-1,2-diol; 4-(2-aminoethyl)-pyrocatechol; alpha-(3,4-Dihydroxyphenyl)-beta-aminoethane; DA; Dophamine


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