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Chem Immunol Allergy. 2014;100:288-301. doi: 10.1159/000359962. Epub 2014 May 23.

History of catecholamine research.

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Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


The prominence of catecholamines and their congeners in allergic diseases rests chiefly on their use in asthma and acute hypersensitivity reactions, such as anaphylaxis. They act in these indications by activating both α- and β-adrenoceptors. Adrenaline, the prototype, was discovered in the adrenals in 1893/1894. In 1939, dopa decarboxylase was the first enzyme in the biosynthesis of catecholamines to be described. Later other catecholamines like noradrenaline and dopamine were characterized. The identification of the active chemicals went along with studies regarding catecholamine receptors. It took until 1948 before the existence of at least two different receptors for the different effects was accepted. Meanwhile, genes from all mammalian catecholamine receptors have been cloned.

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