Dopamine is much more than just the messenger of happiness

Dopamine: Researchers are concerned with the messenger substance of happiness
The messenger substance dopamine produced by the body is also popularly known as the “happiness hormone”. The hormone is not only responsible for the feeling of happiness, but is also used in emergency medicine, for example, for a cardiovascular shock. At a conference, researchers deal with the important neurotransmitter.

The "messenger of happiness"
Dopamine is a messenger or neurotransmitter produced by the body that conveys information between nerve cells and between muscle and nerve cells. It controls both emotional and mental as well as motor reactions. Dopamine is primarily known as a "messenger of happiness" or as a "happiness hormone". It is responsible for the fact that we can feel happy, writes the Medical University of Vienna (short: MedUni Vienna).

Severe health problems
According to the experts, so-called adrenaline kicks, for example in sports, are based on the same pattern. Adrenaline is therefore a close relative of dopamine. If too little or too much dopamine is involved, serious health problems can also arise. If generally too little dopamine molecules are released, Parkinson's can occur, too much can lead to delusion, hallucinations or schizophrenia.

Dopamine in emergency medicine
In emergency medicine, dopamine is also used to stabilize the circulatory system in the event of shock or impending shock. These can occur, for example, with heart failure and heart attack.

However, the messenger substance has even more effects: Scientists from University College London found in a study that the decline in dopamine levels in older people means that those affected become less willing to take risks.

Dopamine release to blame for addictions
"In addition, the dopamine release is to blame for the fact that people become addicted, that they always want to reach new levels in search of pleasure," explains Harald Sitte from the Institute for Pharmacology at MedUni Vienna in the announcement from the university. "Dopamine causes some people to be constantly on the lookout for addiction satisfaction."

According to Matthäus Willeit from the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at MedUni Vienna, an excessive release of dopamine at the wrong moment can lead to “things becoming meaningless that are otherwise meaningless. This can lead to delusion, hallucination or even schizophrenia. "

The two scientists are the organizers of next week's Dopamin 2016 congress on the campus of the University of Vienna and at the Center for Brain Research at the MedUni Vienna. The conference is intended to bring together researchers from basic research and clinics.

Cause of Parkinson's development
It has not yet been clarified how this increased distribution will occur. However, as the university reports in its communication, a cause for the development of Parkinson's disease could be clarified. By Oleh Hornykiewicz from the Center for Brain Research at MedUni Vienna in the early 1960s: his working group demonstrated the lack of dopamine in certain brain regions and identified it as the cause of the disease.

Hornykiewicz was also able to show that dopamine “cannot simply be refilled”, explains Sitte, whereupon he developed a kind of “pre-refill”, the levodopa (L-dopa), a precursor of dopamine. This leads to an increase in the dopamine concentration in the basal cells of the cerebrum. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Generosity, greed and grey matter: Dr Lynda Shaw at TEDxMiltonKeynes (October 2020).