Arvid Carlsson demonstrated dopamine was a neurotransmitter in the brain

Arvid Carlsson – discoverer of dopamine as neurotransmitter

Article on Arvid Carlsson

Biography & contributions

Arvid Carlsson is a Swedish scientist and Nobel laureate born on January 25, 1923. Carlsson is well credited for his work with the neurotransmitter dopamine and its effects in Parkinson's disease and opposed to the fluoridation of drinking water.

In the year of 2000 he had done great works in the fields of physiology or medicine for research on the transmission of nerve impulses which was leaded to winner of Nobel Prize.

In the late 1950's, Carlsson discovered that a chemical called dopamine is one of a group of chemicals called neurotransmitters and it acts as a chemical signal that helps control body movement.

His further research works led to the discovery that a lack of dopamine in certain areas of the brain could disrupt pathways among nerves that control movement. This loss of nerve pathways produces a serious condition known as Parkinson's disease. Carlsson's discovery led to the use of levodopa, or L-dopa drug, to treat Parkinson's disease.

Carlsson found that dopamine levels in the basal ganglia, a brain area important for movement, were particularly high. He then showed that giving animals the drug reserpine caused a decrease in dopamine levels and a loss of movement control.


L-DOPA [L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine] is the precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline) collectively known as catecholamines. L-DOPA can be manufactured and in its pure form is sold as a psychoactive drug with the INN levodopa; trade names include Sinemet, Parcopa, Atamet, Stalevo, Madopar, and Prolopa.  As a drug, it is used in the clinical treatment of Parkinson's disease and dopamine-responsive dystonia.

L-DOPA can be directly metabolized by catechol-O-methyl transferase to 3-O-methyldopa, and then further to vanillactic acid. L-DOPA is a key compound in the formation of marine adhesive proteins, such as those found in mussels. It is believed to be responsible for the water-resistance and rapid curing abilities of these proteins. L-DOPA may also be used to prevent surfaces from fouling by bonding antifouling polymers to a susceptible substrate.


Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine is found in blood plasma at levels comparable to those of epinephrine, but in humans, over 95% of the dopamine in the plasma is in the form of dopamine sulphate, a conjugate produced by the enzyme Sulfotransferase 1A3/1A4 acting on free dopamine.

The dopamine system plays a vital role in a number of important medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Dopamine has been demonstrated to play a role in pain processing in multiple levels of the central nervous system including the spinal cord, periaqueductal gray (PAG), thalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate cortex.

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