Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with multiple roles in the body.
Dopamine is synthesized in neurons and the adrenal glands.
Dopamine is incapable of cross the blood-brain barrier so must be produced in the brain for neuronal activity or peripherally for peripheral activity.
Dopamine plays a role in executive function, motor control, motivation, arousal. The largest source of dopamine in the brain is in the substantia nigra and ventral segmental area, both components of the basal ganglia.
Dopamine has a role in the activity of lymphocytes. It activates native t cells but inhibits the activity of activated t cells. However, dopamine may also induce the release of interleukin-17 in rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammation may also have a role in dopamine production. A study of Hepatitis C patients found that interferon alpha treatment resulted in significantly increased levels of dihydrobiopterin (BH2) and decreased tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) as well as reduced conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine in the cerebrospinal fluid, which are associated with decreased dopamine in the brain.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Studies have found lower levels of the dopamine precursor tyrosine and reduced activation in the basal ganglia , the region of the brain with the highest concentration of dopaminergic neurons.
Parkinson's disease involves the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain and subsequently reduced dopamine. Schizophrenia, ADHD and restless leg syndrome are also associated with altered dopamine.
In addition to its neurological effects, reduced dopamine may also have immunological effects in these diseases.
Altering dopamine levels