Tyramine and octopamine: ruling behavior and metabolism

Annu Rev Entomol. 2005;50:447-77. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.50.071803.130404.


Octopamine (OA) and tyramine (TA) are the invertebrate counterparts of the vertebrate adrenergic transmitters. They are decarboxylation products of the amino acid tyrosine, with TA as the biological precursor of OA. Nevertheless, both compounds are independent neurotransmitters that act through G protein-coupled receptors. OA modulates a plethora of behaviors and peripheral and sense organs, enabling the insect to respond correctly to external stimuli. Because these two phenolamines are the only biogenic amines whose physiological significance is presumably restricted to invertebrates, pharmacologists have focused their attention on the corresponding receptors, which are still believed to represent promising targets for new insecticides. Recent progress made on all levels of OA and TA research has enabled researchers to understand better the molecular events underlying the control of complex behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Insecticides
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Octopamine / chemistry
  • Octopamine / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Tyramine / chemistry
  • Tyramine / physiology*


  • Insecticides
  • Octopamine
  • Tyramine