Epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and dopamine are both neurotransmitters and hormones secreted mainly in the central nervous system and the inner part of the adrenal glands (adrenal medulla).
Catecholamines are involved in the transmission of nerve impulses between neurons. They are produced in increased quantities under the effect of stress (physical aggression and other traumatic events, hypoglycemia, etc.).
All the effects of catecholamines serve to protect the vital functions of the body to enable it to fight or flee.
The main effects of catecholamines are an increase in cardiac rate blood pressure and breathing rate, vasoconstriction of small blood vessels promoting the flow of blood to important organs, an increase in blood sugar and oxygen consumption by the brain and muscles, slower digestion and dilation of the pupils. dilation of the pupils.
A catecholamine assay cannot assess whether a person is under excessive stress. It is mainly used to diagnose a rare adrenal gland tumour (pheochromocytoma) or an even rarer nervous system tumour (paraganglioma). The overproduction of catecholamines by these tumours is often accompanied by sudden and severe flare-ups of hypertension, characterized by sweating, headaches and palpitations.