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Systematic name Dopamine Hydrochloride
Other names


Molecular formula C8H11NO2
Molar mass Molar mass::153.18 g/mol
Appearance clear, aqueous
CAS number CAS number::62-31-7
Solubility in water 60.0 g/100 ml (25°C)
Solubility in others Soluble in methanol. Insoluble in diethyl ether
Melting point Melting point::241°C
Molecular shape asymmetrical
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazards

eye and skin irritant,
dangerous if swallowed or inhaled

NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

RTECS number UX1092000
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (nervous system messenger) present in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. It gives us reward and pleasure, which without, would leave us seemingly unmotivated. Life essentials such as food, drink, sexual intercourse, and the like would be pushed aside if it were not for dopamine. God has placed a desire to not only exist but to live inside each person. We have a desire to not only survive, but to continue the human race. Each person has a life filled with gifts of pleasure from God. He lets us have pleasure not only so that we may survive but also that we may find happiness in our favorite song, or discover some simple peace in a walk on the beach. God has given us the potential for motivation and joy and a big part of making that possible for us all is through the utilization of dopamine in the brain.


The injectable form of dopamine hydrochloride, USP, is an almost transparent, aqueous, addictive solution for infusion into the bloodstream after dilution. Each mL will contain either 40mg, 80mg, or 160mg of dopamine in water for infusion including 9 mg of sodium metabisulfate as an antioxidant. With a pH level between 2.5 and 5, it may be adjusted by either citric acid or sodium citrate. The solution is disinfected and nonpyrogenic. Dopamine is a naturally occurring catecholamine and an inotropic vasopressor agent. It’s full chemical name is 3,4 dihydroxyphenethylamine hydrochloride. Dopamine is sensitive to alkali metals, iron salts and oxidizing agents. Dopamine must be appropriately diluted in a sterile parenteral solution before injection. [1] Dopamine is a catecholamine, both a neurotransmitter and hormone. It also functions as a monomine, a compound that contains nitrogen formed by ammonia through the replacement of one or more of the hydrogen atoms by hydrocarbon radicals. Dopamine is usually released prior to a release of adrenaline or noradrenaline. The decarboxylation of dopa produced dopamine. [2]


Although Dopamine is a neurotransmitter found naturally in the brain, there are several ways one can naturally increase levels of dopamine at a safe level which does not cause damage to the brain or it's receptors. Seeing as food is a large stimulator of dopamine, it makes sense that certain foods you eat may cause a natural rise in dopamine levels.

Certain foods are:

  • Apples

Apples contain "quercetin" which not only helps raise dopamine levels but is also an antioxidant that may help in the prevention of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

  • Bananas

Banana's have tyrosine which is converted into noreinephrine and dopamine. This helps with motivation, alertness, concentration, and memory.

  • Beets

Betaine, an amino acid present in certain vegetables, namely beets, helps produce dopamine and acts as an antidepressant.

  • Chicken

Chicken, like eggs and cheese, contain a complete protein which increases levels of dopamine and also acts as an antidepressant.

  • Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids may help produce nuerotransmitters.

Omega-3 deficient rats, tested by French scientists, seemed to have an increase in serotonin receptors and a drop in dopamine in the frontal cortex.

  • Watermelon

Watermelon has many vitamins, including B6 which helps create neurotransmitters.

  • Wheat Germ

Wheat Germ is a good source of phenyalanine which can be converted into tyrosine then to dopamine.

  • Beans and legumes

They are rich in protein and can boost dopamine

A healthly, balanced diet is the best way to increase dopamine levels in a healthy way. A diet high in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts is recommended. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants which protect the body cells. They also help raise serotonin levels in the brain.


Medical Uses

This illustration shows dopamine, dopamine receptors, and an uptake pump (reuptake system).

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, not only plays a role of an addictive substance but also affects brain processes that control movement, emotions, and the ability to feel pain or pleasure. Moderation of dopamine plays a vital role in both mental and physical health. Neurons containing dopamine are bunched in the substantia nigra, an area of the midbrain Such as in Parkinson’s disease, where these transmitters die, leaving the brain almost dopamine-free. L-DOPA, a substance that can be converted to dopamine in the brain, is now being given to patients. For treating Parkinson’s or further creating the dopamine affect, dopamine agonists will bind to dopamine receptors in place of dopamine and directly stimulate those receptor. This can stimulate dopamine receptors even if the person lacks dopamine neurons. Dopamine antagonists on the other hand, prevent or reverse the actions of dopamine by binding to the receptors without stimulating them. This also prevents dopamine from reaching the receptors. These are usually used to treat schizophrenia and related mental issues. Other drugs, such as cocaine may have can alter dopamine function, but it varies depending on which receptors the drugs stimulate or block or how well the act like dopamine. Drugs can be classified as either indirect or direct. Drugs like cocaine or amphetamine create an effect by changing the speed of already active transmitters. This is dubbed indirect because they are dependent on the actions of neurons. Direct drugs stimulate the receptors themselves. For example, Parkinson’s disease is better treated by direct medication due to a lack of dopamine in the body. [4]

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder. Tremors, slow speed, poor balnce, and difficulty in walking can all result from Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s results from the breaking down of the nuclei of dopamine- producing nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates motor neurons, which control muscles. When dopamine is low, the motor system nerves are difficult to control. Parkinson’s disease patients have lost 80% or more of their dopamine-producing cells by the time they can notice symptoms. [5]

Drug Abuse

Dopamine helps control the brain’s incentive and pleasure centers. This helps us to control our movement and emotions to not only perceive reward, but to attempt to achieve it. People with low doses of dopamine are more prone to addiction. Those with certain dopamine receptors are associated with sensation-hunting. [6]

Dopamine connects to receptors quickly and then is rapidly removed if dopamine levels are adequately high. Drugs can affect these levels. Some drugs increase dopamine by preventing dopamine reuptake, leaving dopamine in the synapse. Cocaine and methylphenidate, a therapeutic drug used to treat childhood hyperkinesis and schizophrenia, affect dopamine levels in such a manner. Amphetamine and cocaine also affect behavior and heart function by increasing the amount of dopamine left in the synapse.Cocaine prevents dopamine reuptake, while amphetamine releases more dopamine. Thus, a parallel effect happens through different actions. However, different treatments for addiction will be needed.[4]

This graph shows normal dopamine levels, dopamine levels on nicotene, and dopamine levels on cocaine

If one abuses drugs for long periods of time, neurons can become sensitized and even immune to dopamine. When observing drug addiction, being aware of how cells adapt to exposure of drugs is vital. Over a long period of exposure to dopamine antagonists, the number of dopamine receptors increase. This happens as the nervous system attempts to make up for the lack of dopamine caused stimulation. The receptors, in turn, also become more sensitive to dopamine. These processes are called sensitization. However if dopamine or dopamine agonists are repeatedly used as stimulants, the dopamine receptors will decrease in number and sensitivity. This process is called desensitization. [4]

Desensitization can be also coined by the word tolerance. Exposure to a drug creates less reaction than previously. This illustrates homeostasis, the body’s attempt to maintain a balance even when there is a change chemically. Sensitization and desensitization do not need long periods of exposure. In fact they make occur within minutes of first use. [4]

Monoamine Oxidase (MAO)

Dopamine, once returned to the sending neuron by the reuptake system of the brain, it may be affected by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO usually takes on the job of breaking down dopamine. Without the workings of other factors, dopamine levels would be kept considerably low due to MAO. However, dopamine can be stored in a vesicle for storage when it is taken back into the nerve ending. The vesical will protect dopamine from MAO. Reserpine, a drug, interrupts the reuptake of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Taking reserpine causes dopamine to be exposed and broken down by MAO. Another drug, deprenyl blocks MAO. This increases storage of dopamine and slows Parkinson’s disease. In higher doses it may affect behavior. However, one form of MAO protects dopamine. This form of MAO is found in dopamine neurons and reacts with substances other than dopamine. This MAO keeps the neurotransmission cleaner and more efficient by moving away other substances. Inhibiting MAO can increase levels of serotonin which appears to improve depression symptoms.[4]



  1. Dopamine(hydrochloride) Injection, USP RxList, RxList, 10/4/10.
  2. Definition of Dopamine, last edited: 3/19/04.
  3. Foods That Increase Dopamine Naturally Med Help, Med Help, published 6/26/08. accessed 5/17/11
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Dopamine - A Sample Neurotransmitter Addiction Science Research and Education Center U of Texas, Carl Erickson, 4/23/11 date of access.
  5. Parkinson’s Disease Overview Health communities, remedy health media, 5/20/11 date of access.
  6. Psych Basics Dopamine Psychology Today, accessed 4/28/11.

Additional Information