Amino Acid Derivative: Epinephrine/Adrenaline
Epinephrine is popularly known as adrenaline. It is a water-soluble natural hormone that
is secreted by the adrenal glands in the brain (Rushton, 2009). Acute stress triggers the release of
epinephrine into the bloodstream. In return, the heart rate, blood pressure, sugar metabolism, and
heart rates spike allowing a person to react quickly (George, 2020). For instance, a person who
usually doesn’t run can run very fast when they see something that arouses fear in them due to
the epinephrine released in their body. The hormone can also be artificially synthesized and
induced into the body for various reasons.
Artificially synthesized Epinephrine is used as a medication to artificially induce an
increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, sugar metabolism, and heart rates. The hormone is
primarily induced into the body using an injector or it could be inhaled in relieving shortness of
breath (Alqahtani et al., 2020). The major brand name for artificially synthesized epinephrine is
the EpiPen. The injection method is preferred because unlike the inhaling method, one could
seek help in injecting the drug even when one passes out.
According to Alqahtani et al., in their research paper (2020), the primary reason for using
artificially synthesized Epinephrine is because of asthma attacks (In this case it is inhaled via an
inhaler), or in case of an allergic reaction (injector is used). Some of the severe allergic reactions
that Epinephrine treats include but are not limited to stinging by insects, food allergies, and drug
allergies. Given that most people with allergies are constantly engaging in an environment where
their allergic reaction triggers exist. They always have an EpiPen to avoid a catastrophic allergic
reaction (Alqahtani et al., 2020). For example, someone with a bee sting allergy may opt to
always carry an EpiPen instead of always staying indoors to avoid the insect. Also, those with
food allergies have the EpiPen just in case there are traces of the allergic reaction inducers.
Epinephrine is beneficial as a supplement because it alleviates allergic reactions and has
been approved by scientific evidence to be effective. The effect of the substance is, however,
temporally and meant to buy the victim time to get to the hospital (Alqahtani et al., 2020).
Epinephrine is considered a derivative of tyrosine because it contains all but + H 3 N, a Hydrogen
bond, and one Hydroxyl bond (Rushton, 2009). The modification of Tyrosine in Epinephrine
allows the compound to be water-soluble and soluble in the blood plasma which makes it
possible to use in the injector.
The conversion of Epinephrine into Tyrosine happens in the liver with the help of
Phenylalanine hydroxylase which is produced by the organ (Huang et al., 2020). Tyrosine is
derived from proteins in the diets after the metabolism of phenylalanine, it then enters the human
brain through a low-affinity amino acid transportation system (George, 2020). In the body, it is
stored in the form of Norepinephrine (NE) which serves as a neurotransmitter. The synthesis
occurs in the nerve axons and is stored in vesicles.
Below is the metabolic chain of Epinephrine to produce Tyrosine;
Tyr → catecholamines (DOPA →dopamine → noradrenaline (norepinephrine) → adrenaline
The metabolism of Tyrosine into epinephrine starts with the amino acid tyrosine which is
first transported to the sympathetic nerve axon. Then follows the conversion of the amino acid to
DOPA which is facilitated by tyrosine hydroxylase. DOPA is then broken down into dopamine
through the help of DOPA decarbonization. Vesicles then aid in the transport of dopamine and it
is then broken down into norepinephrine by the aid of dopamine β-hydroxylase. It is, however,
important to note that the conversion of dopamine into norepinephrine can be inhibited by
reserpine. As the vesicles transport norepinephrine in the axon, the membranes of the vesical
depolarize their membranes allowing calcium in the calcium causes the membrane to shift
allowing the release of norepinephrine after which it is bound by a postjunctional receptor that
helps in the simulation to organ response.
The adrenal medulla synthesizes epinephrine from norepinephrine. The adrenal medulla
is a gland associated with the kidneys (Rushton, 2009). A synapse is then established between
the nervous system and the preganglionic fibers of the sympathetic nervous system. After being
activated, the preganglionic fibers release acetylcholine which aids in the binding of
postjunctional receptors within organs and tissue such as muscles. The releases of acetylcholine
simulate the synthesis of norepinephrine within the adrenomedullary cells which adds a methyl
group to the norepinephrine forming epinephrine which when released to the bloodstream is
carried through the body inducing the fight or flight reaction (George, 2020). Epinephrine is
reduced in the body by the transportation of norepinephrine to the nerve terminal. However, for
someone high on cocaine, the transporters are blocked which is how the drug can induce blood
pressure. Diffusion through capillaries, extracellular space metabolism, and postjunctional tissue
uptake are other ways in which epinephrine is cleared from the system.
Epinephrine affects numerous systems in the human body. In the heart, the heart rate is
increased. In the respiratory system, the airways are opened, in the liver, it stimulates the
breakdown of glycogen to produce glucose (Knight, Nigam, 2017). These are the properties that
make, the product synthesized from animal livers or clinically in a laboratory to be perfect for
use during asthma attacks, anaphylaxis reactions, and for fight or flight responses. In the case of
an individual having a heart attack, when injected into the heart, adrenalin induces action of the
heart averting death.
Epinephrine is very effective in the prevention of anaphylaxis which could be fatal. It,
therefore, is advisable that an asthmatic person always carry an inhaler or an individual with a
proven history of an allergic reaction to food or insect bites to have an EpiPen or epinephrine
equivalent with them at all times (Ewan et al., 2016). Epinephrine is very effective when induced
into the body because it does not have to go through the metabolic process tyrosine has to go
through to produce similar effects. It is important to note that some people have been known to
be addicted to epinephrine (Ichim, 2018). Those who don’t use epinephrine in the synthesized
form put themselves in stressful situations to produce similar results. These are the people who
engage in extreme sports or risky behaviors for ‘fun.’
People with a history of anaphylaxis reactions are advised to take epinephrine when they
eat or get stung by an allergic inducer. It is recommended that the epinephrine be injected as
soon as possible. In situations where one suspects and is not sure if anaphylaxis will take place
flowing exposure that epinephrine be injected or inhaled because the risk of not taking the same
outweighs the associated disadvantages (Ewan et al., 2016). I, therefore, believe that people with
allergies to always carry epinephrine injectors such as the EpiPen at all times and use them if
they suspect that they have encountered an allergen.
Alqahtani, A.N., Alanazy, S.H., Aljameel, O.S.H., Aldhawi, F.S.M., Jamjoom, M.M., Al
Sharhan, A.H., Alshehri, J.A.M., Halawani, A.T., Alhamdan, Z.A., Attar, M.H. and
Salman, I.M., 2020. Evaluation of Diagnosis and Management of Anaphylactic shock in
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Ewan, P., Brathwaite, N., Leech, S., Luyt, D., Powell, R., Till, S., Nasser, S. and Clark, A., 2016.
BSACI guideline: prescribing an adrenaline auto‐injector. Clinical & Experimental
Allergy, 46(10), pp.1258-1280. https://doi.org/10.1111/cea.12788
George, M., 2020. Adrenaline releases level on skin-to skin touches.
Huang, L., Yao, W., Wang, T., Li, J., He, Q. and Huang, F., 2020. Acetylation of Phenylalanine
Hydroxylase and Tryptophan 2, 3-Dioxygenase Alters Hepatic Aromatic Amino Acid
Metabolism in Weaned Piglets. Metabolites, 10(4), p.146.
Ichim, V., 2018. BETWEEN DESPAIR AND BIO-CHEMISTRY. NOTES ON THE
PHENOMENOLOGY OF ADDICTION. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai-Philosophia,
Knight, J. and Nigam, Y., 2017. Anatomy and physiology of ageing 7: the endocrine system.
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Rushton, L., 2009. The endocrine system. Infobase Publishing.