Control of Monoamine Synthesis by Precursor Availability

  • Candace J. Gibson


Several important CNS monoamine neurotransmitters have as their precursors simple aromatic amino acids present in dietary protein. For instance, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT), the indoleamine neurotransmitter, is formed from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and the catecholamines, dopamine (DA), norepinephrine (NE), and epinephrine (E), are formed from the amino acid tyrosine (Figs. 1, 2). The circulating level of these amino acids changes with meal consumption, dependent on the dietary content of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.1–4 The carrier system that transports these precursor amino acids across the blood-brain barrier is normally unsaturated, and changes in their circulating levels can raise or lower brain tryptophan and tyrosine concentration.5,6 Once in the brain, and in the particular subset of amine-containing neurons, tryptophan and tyrosine can influence the synthesis of their respective neurotransmitters, since the rate-limiting synthetic enzymes are normally unsaturated with respect to substrate or, under certain conditions, may become precursor responsive.7


Tyrosine Hydroxylase Neutral Amino Acid Large Neutral Amino Acid Catecholamine Synthesis Plasma Tryptophan 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Candace J. Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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