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