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Dopamine metabolites are the products following the breakdown of Dopamine
Dopamine is inactivated by reuptake via the dopamine transporter, then enzymatic breakdown by catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) and monoamine oxidase (MAO). Dopamine that is not broken down by enzymes is repackaged into vesicles for reuse.
----> via MAO -> '''DOPAC''' -> via COMT / \ '''Dopamine (DA)''' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ---> '''homovanillic acid (HVA)''' \ / ----> via COMT -> '''3-MT''' -> via MAO
One of the three direct products from the alteration of dopamine (DOPAC, 3-MT (3-methoxytyramine) and noradrenaline) DOPAC is an important metabolite when studying the behaviour of the dopaminergic system for multiple reasons; 3-MT is generally more difficult to assay alongside dopamine and by assessing all three metabolites (DOPAC, HVA and 3-MT) abnormalities in either COMT (catechol-O-methyl transferase) or MAO (monoamine oxidase) can be indirectly identified. This has large ramifications as COMT abnormalities are suspected in various neuropsychiatric diseases including schizophrenia.