Besides its action on the nervous system, dopamine (DA) plays a role on neural-immune interactions. Here we review the current evidence on the dopaminergic system in human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). PBL synthesize DA through the tyrosine-hydroxylase/DOPA-decarboxylase pathway, and express DA receptors and DA transporter (DAT) on their plasma membrane. Stimulation of DA receptors on PBL membrane contributes to modulate the development and initiation of immune responses under physiological conditions and in immune system pathologies such as autoimmunity or immunodeficiency. The characterization of DA system in PBL gave rise to a further line of research investigating the feasibility of PBL as a cellular model for studying DA derangement in neuropsychiatric disorders. Several reports showed changes of the expression of DAT and/or DA receptors in PBL from patients suffering from several neuropsychiatric disorders, in particular parkinsonian syndromes, schizophrenia and drug- or alcohol-abuse. Despite some methodological and theoretical limitations, these findings suggest that PBL may prove a cellular tool with which to identify the derangement of DA transmission in neuropsychiatric diseases, as well as to monitor the effects of pharmacological treatments.
Keywords: psychiatric disorders, glycine transporters, norepinephrine, basal ganglia, peripheral blood lymphocytes, neuropsychiatric disorders, dopamine transporter, dopamine receptors, Dopamine
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