[Dopamine: not just a neurotransmitter]

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2005;59:405-20.
[Article in Polish]


Dopamine is an important endogenous catecholamine which exerts widespread effects both in neuronal (as a neurotransmitter) and non-neuronal tissues (as an autocrine or paracrine agent). Within the central nervous system, dopamine binds to specific membrane receptors presented by neurons and it plays the key role in the control of locomotion, learning, working memory, cognition, and emotion. The brain dopamine system is involved in various neurological and psychiatric disturbances such as Parkinson's Disease, schizophrenia, and amphetamine and cocaine addiction. Thus, this system is the major target of powerful drugs applied in the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. Physiological functions of the brain dopamine system are well recognized. However, dopamine biosynthesis does not only occur in neurons, but also in peripheral tissues. Dopamine receptors have been described in the kidney, pancreas, lungs, and in numerous blood vessels outside the central nervous system. Renal dopamine is now recognized as an important regulator of sodium extraction and electrolyte balance, while defective renal dopamine production and/or dopamine receptor function may contribute to the development of various forms of human and animal hypertension. This article gives a brief overview of the importance of dopamine acting as a neurotransmitter and peripheral hormone. Special consideration is given to: (i) biochemical disturbances occurring in both brain and kidneys in various diseases and (ii) current therapy correcting disturbances in dopamine systems.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autocrine Communication / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Paracrine Communication / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology


  • Hormones
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Dopamine