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Neurosurgery. 1982 Apr;10(4):524-9.

Neurotransmitter precursors and brain function.


Brain function can be affected by the availability of dietary precursors of neurotransmitters. This occurs because the rate-limiting synthetic enzymes are not "saturated" with substrate under normal circumstances. Tyrosine affects catecholaminergic neurons that fire rapidly, whether in the brain stem to decrease blood pressure in hypertension or in the adrenal gland to increase blood pressure in hypotension, and has been used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and depression. Choline forms acetylcholine and has been used successfully in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia and memory disorders. Tryptophan, which forms serotonin, has been used for chronic pain therapy, sleep disorders, depression, and appetite control. Although these substances may lack the potency of traditionally used agonists, they offer an increase in specificity because the enzymes necessary to convert them to neurotransmitters are found only in neurons. Precursors are also "physiological"; they are consumed as foods and, therefore, should be relatively safe therapeutic agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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