Dopamine is metabolised by different enzymes along the rat nephron

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology








Dopamine; MAO and COMT in nephron; Medullary collecting duct; MTAL; Proximal tubule


The purpose of this study was to determine the basal levels of dopamine (DA) and to examine the enzymes involved in DA metabolism in different microdissected nephron segments from rat kidneys. Segments were incubated with DA (50 nM) or DA plus monoamine oxidase (MAO) or catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) inhibitors. Basal DA levels were higher in the proximal convoluted tubule (PCT, 10.8±3.7 pg/mm) and in the medullary collecting duct (MCD, 10.9±4.0 pg/mm) than in the medullary thick ascending limb of Henle's loop (MTAL, 4.9±0.9 pg/mm) (P<0.05). The percentage of exogenously added DA that was not metabolised was similar in both PCT (67±13%) and MCD (65±5%) and lower in MTAL (35±7%), suggesting that MTAL is a major site of DA metabolism. Inhibition of MAO (pargyline 1 mM) significantly increased the basal content of DA and the percentage of the added non-metabolised DA (to 95±10%) in PCT but had no effect on MTAL or MCD. Conversely, inhibition of COMT (nitecapone or Ro-41-0960, both 1 mM) slightly increased the basal levels of DA only in MTAL, whereas the percentage of added DA not metabolised rose to 97±10% in MTAL and to 91±15% in MCD. COMT inhibition had no effect in PCT. In conscious rats pargyline (50 mg/kg) increased urinary DA from 680±34 to 1,128±158 ng/d/100 g BW (P<0.01) while nitecapone (40 mg/kg) produced a slight non-significant increment. Our results show that DA is present all along the rat nephron and that renal DA is metabolised continuously and predominantly by MAO in proximal segments, and by COMT in the more distal ones. © Springer-Verlag 2005.