catecholamine

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catecholamine

(kăt'əkôl`əmēn), any of several compounds occurring naturally in the body that serve as hormoneshormone,
secretory substance carried from one gland or organ of the body via the bloodstream to more or less specific tissues, where it exerts some influence upon the metabolism of the target tissue.
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 or as neurotransmittersneurotransmitter,
chemical that transmits information across the junction (synapse) that separates one nerve cell (neuron) from another nerve cell or a muscle. Neurotransmitters are stored in the nerve cell's bulbous end (axon).
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 in the sympathetic nervous systemnervous system,
network of specialized tissue that controls actions and reactions of the body and its adjustment to the environment. Virtually all members of the animal kingdom have at least a rudimentary nervous system.
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. The catecholamines include such compounds as epinephrineepinephrine
, hormone important to the body's metabolism, also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine, a catecholamine, together with norepinephrine, is secreted principally by the medulla of the adrenal gland.
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, or adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine. They resemble one another chemically in having an aromatic portion (catechol) to which is attached an amine, or nitrogen-containing group. Epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are also hormones, are secreted by the adrenal medulla, and norepinephrine is also secreted by some nerve fibers. These substances prepare the body to meet emergencies such as cold, fatigue, and shock, and norepinephrine is probably a chemical transmitter at nerve synapses. Dopamine is an intermediate in the synthesis of epinephrine. A deficiency of dopamine in the brain is responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson's diseaseParkinson's disease
or Parkinsonism,
degenerative brain disorder first described by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817. When there is no known cause, the disease usually appears after age 40 and is referred to as Parkinson's disease; a number of genes have
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; medical administration of the drug L-dopa, which is presumed to be converted to dopamine in the brain, relieves the symptoms. Dopamine also appears to play a role in addiction; in a number of different ways, addictive substances cause a rise in the levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, which is believed to be the main reward center in the brain. Epinephrine is used medically to stimulate heartbeat and to treat emphysema, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma and other allergic conditions, as well as in the treatment of the eye disease glaucoma.

catecholamine

[¦kad·ə′käl·ə‚mīn]
(biochemistry)
Any one of a group of sympathomimetic amines containing a catechol moiety, including especially epinephrine, norepinephrine (levarterenol), and dopamine.