Dopamine is derived from an amino acid, phenylalanine, which must be obtained through the diet. Dopamine, known primarily to be a neurotransmitter involved in almost any higher executive action, acts through five types of G-protein-coupled receptors. Dopamine has been studied extensively for its neuronal handling, synaptic actions, and in relation to Parkinson’s disease. However, dopamine receptors can be found extra-synaptically and, in addition, they are not only expressed in neurons, but in many types of mammalian cells, inside and outside the central nervous system (CNS). Recent studies show a dopamine link between the gut and the CNS; the mechanisms are unknown, but they probably require cells to act as mediators and the involvement of the immune system. In fact, dopamine receptors are expressed in almost any cell of the immune system where dopamine regulates various processes, such as antigen presentation, T-cell activation, and inflammation. This likely immune cell-mediated linkage opens up a new perspective for the use of dopamine-related drugs, i.e., agonist–antagonist–allosteric modulators of dopamine receptors, in a variety of diseases.
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