Neurotransmitter And Hormone Production

Many of the pharmacological actions of tyrosine relate to its role as a precursor for a number of neurotransmitters and hormones.

Elevating tyrosine concentrations in brain catecholamine neurons (particularly dopamine and noradrenaline neurons) can stimulate neurotransmitter production in actively firing neurones but not in those that are quiescent or firing slowly (Fernstrom 2000).

It plays an essential role in the body as a precursor to the catecholamine neurotransmitters as illustrated below.

Phenylalanine -» Tyrosine -» L-Dopa -» Dopamine -» Noradrenaline -» Adrenaline

Folate, vitamins B3, B6, B12 and C, iron, copper and other nutrients are required for the metabolism of tyrosine to catecholamines.

Thyroid hormones As tyrosine is a precursor for the synthesis of thyroid hormones it is involved in the regulation of basal metabolic rate, oxygen use, cellular metabolism, growth and development (Tortora & Grabowski 1996).

Tyrosine undergoes iodination to form T-, (mono-iodotyrosine), a second iodination produces T2 (di-iodotyrosine) and these combine to produce the active thyroid hormones known as T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (tetra-iodothyronine or thyroxine) (Tortora & Grabowski 1996).

Tyrosine is also involved in the production of other compounds such as melanin, and some types of oestrogen (Hass 1992, Tortora & Grabowski 1996).

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