Reflection on Friday- Dopamine

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

“Keep swinging.” Hank Aaron

Dopamine is Important:

  • Dopamine has the chemical structure of 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine and is a member of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families.
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which means it delivers a message in the central nervous system. The enzyme L-DOPA decarboxylase removes carbon dioxide from levodopa (L-DOPA) to give dopamine (see picture below).
  • As a neurotransmitter in the brain, dopamine has many key physiological functions that include movement, cognition, reward/pleasure/motivation, attention, sleep, and sadly, it has a role in psychosis/addiction.
  • To replace the dopamine missing from each person-with-Parkinson’s, we typically take Levodopa along with Carbodipa. What is Carbidopa/Levodopa?
  • Interestingly, the blood-brain barrier (BBB) will not easily allow dopamine to enter the brain, but the immediate precursor of levodopa (L-DOPA) is allowed access to the brain.
  • Carbidopa is an enzyme inhibitor that prevents the processing of levodopa to dopamine in the peripheral tissue (which is not good). The BBB blocks entry of carbidopa to the brain.
  • Levodopa/Carbidopa provides the spark to positively fire the motor neurons for better movement, posture, balance, and coordination in Parkinson’s.

Also see these blog posts:
Treating Parkinson’s with a Dopamine Agonist: The Ropinirole Taper
Dopamine Agonists and Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s
Purple Haze of Parkinson’s: How Dopamine Works

Cover photo image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Quote photo image by Jennifer Bazan-Wigle and Frank C. Church

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