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Dopamine is a chemical compound that functions as a neurotransmitter in humans. It has been found to have a fundamental role in mental reinforcement[1] and reward[2]. However, It is also a key factor in the development of Parkinson's Disease.

Degeneration of dopaminergic neurones in the brain leads to a loss in dopamine transmission which is associated with Parkinson's Disease. Several other diseases of the nervous system are associated with dysfunctions this neurotransmitter for example schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)[3].

Dopamine itself can be used as a medication in smaller doses to treat ADHD and heart failure/shock in newborn babies.

Dopamine is mainly synthesised in neurones and cells in the medulla of the adrenal glands.

Dopamine is synthesised from the dietary amino acid Tyrosine which once inside of the neuron, is converted to dihydroxyphenylalanine or L-DOPA. This reaction is catalysed by the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. DOPA-decarboxylase then converts L-DOPA into Dopamine [4].


  1. Paul W.G. Understanding dopamine and reinforcement learning: The dopamine reward prediction error hypothesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13; 108(Suppl 3): 15647–15654.
  2. Wise R.A, Rompre P.P. Brain dopamine and reward. Annu Rev Psychol. 1989;40:191-225. Available at:
  3. Kenneth B, Amanda L.C, Eric R.B, David E.C, Thomas J.H.C, Vanessa A, Seth H.B, Bernard W.D, Roger L.W, Alison N, Joel L, Lonna W, Thomas J.P, Tomas P, and Marlene OB. Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and reward deficiency syndrome. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2008 Oct; 4(5): 893–918. Available at:
  4. Elsworth J.D, Roth R.H, Dopamine synthesis, uptake, metabolism, and receptors: relevance to gene therapy of Parkinson's disease. Experimental Neurology. (1997)114(1):4:9. Available at: (Accessed 18.10.2016)
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