MAR 17, 2016 06:00 AM PDT

The history of dopamine

Presented At Neuroscience
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  • Swedish Pharmacologist, Nobel Prize Winner
      Arvid Carlsson, Swedish pharmacologist who, along with Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel, was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his research establishing dopamine as an important neurotransmitter in the brain.

      Carlsson received a medical degree from the University of Lund in 1951 and subsequently held teaching positions there until 1959, when he became professor of pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg. When Carlsson began his pioneering studies in the 1950s, scientists thought that dopamine worked only indirectly, by causing brain cells to make another neurotransmitter, noradrenaline. Using a sensitive test that he had devised, Carlsson detected particularly high levels of the compound in areas of the brain that controlled walking and other voluntary movements. In animal experiments he showed that depletion of dopamine impairs the ability to move. When Carlsson treated dopamine-depleted animals with the amino acid l-dopa, the symptoms disappeared, and the animals moved normally again. This led to the use of l-dopa as a treatment for Parkinson disease, and it eventually became the single most important medication for the disease. Carlsson's work also contributed to an understanding of the relationship between neurotransmitters and mental states and led to the introduction of new antidepressant drugs.


    In this presentation, Arvid Carlsson, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2000 for his discovery of the transmitter role of dopamine, will be interviewed by Elias Eriksson. The following aspects will be covered during their discussion: 1. How the transmitter role of dopamine was disclosed. 2. The importance of dopamine for Parkinson’s disease. 3. The importance of D2 antagonism for the symptom-reducing effect of typical and atypical antipsychotics. 4. Which other conditions, apart from Parkinson’s disease and psychosis, are likely to be closely related to brain dopaminergic neurotransmission? 5. The concept of partial D2 agonism. 6. Dopamine stabilizers: the next generation of dopamine-modulating drugs?
    Learning objectives:
    1. To provide a historical background for the current assumption that dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter of importance for a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions. 
    2. To present the rational for introducing dopamine stabilizers as the next generation of dopamine-modulating agents.

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