THE conversion of noradrenaline to adrenaline is catalysed by phenylethanolamine N-methyl transferase (PNMT,EC 211)1,2, which is highly localised in the adrenal medulla. Small amounts of PNMT-like enzyme 2-5 and adrenaline6,7 have been detected in the central nervous system, and we have now been able to study the distribution of the enzyme in specific nuclei of the rat brain. This has been made possible by the development of a technique for the dissection of small areas and individual nuclei8 of the brain, and the availability of a sensitive assay for the measurement of PNMT. Our findings suggest that adrenaline may serve as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
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