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Polymorphisms of Enzymes Involved in Catecholamine Synthesis and Metabolism

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The gene for dopamine beta hydroxylase (DBH) is located on the long arm of chromosome 9. DBH catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and plays an important role in the modulation of dopaminergic and noradrenergic tone. Inhibition of DBH results in a reduction of norepinephrine. Under ordinary circumstances norepinephrine exerts an inhibitory effect on tyrosine hydroxylase and thus the conversion of tyrosine to dopamine and subsequently norepinephrine. DBH inhibition and the subsequent reduction in norepinephrine can therefore result in an increase of dopamine (Comings et al. 1996). Changes in DBH activity have been linked to conduct disorder and a variety of personality traits in several studies (Comings et al. 1996). There is a functional polymorphism of DBH (TaqB), occurring in approximately 50% of non-Hispanic Caucasians that does appear to effect transcription of the gene product. Our group reported preliminary findings suggesting that DBH allele status was related to several measures of cognitive function in a cohort of 100 individuals with mild-moderate TBI studied approximately 1 month after injury (McAllister et al. 2009).

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