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Unit6Drugs - Drugs and Toxicity This section will look at...

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-257- Drugs and Toxicity This section will look at some of the major classes of drugs; their structures and functions. Many of these drugs are organic compounds which contain nitrogen. Recall that the first class of compounds containing nitrogen that we studied are the amines ..... those molecules based on ammonia, NH 3 . AntiDepressant Drugs Antidepressives are a class of drugs which affect the brain by interacting with neurotransmitters or their receptors. When a nerve impulse must be transmitted between two cells, molecules called neurotransmitters are released by the cell from which the nerve impulse is coming. They then travel across a microscopic gap called the synapse towards receptors on the adjacent cell; this sends the impulse along the second cell. After the impulse is generated, the neurotransmitter molecules are released from the receptor sites and make their way back to the original cell to be activated again later. H H H N .. .. N H H .. N H .. N R R R' R R' R" Ammonia Primary Amine Secondary Amine Tertiary Amine
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-258- Serotonin and norepinephrine are two of the neurotransmitters found in the brain; clinical depression may be caused by a deficiency of these molecules. Serotonin is involved with temperature and blood pressure control, perception of pain and mood (or your general feeling of well being). Norepinephrine helps control coordination and balance, alertness and emotion, dreaming and moods. “Depression” results from deficiencies of these neurotransmitters in the synapse; especially deficiencies in serotonin. There are different types of antidepressive drugs; all of them act to somehow increase the levels of the neurotransmitters in the synaptic region. Some drugs prevent the re-uptake of neurotransmitters; this increases their concentration in the synapse, and they will stay there longer than they would normally. Other drugs, such as Phenelzine (Nardil) inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO); this enzyme inactivates the neurotransmitters ..... the result of this is because the enzyme doesn’t work the way it should, the neurotransmitters are not inactivated. Fluoxetine (Prozac) prevents the recapture of serotonin, thereby increasing its concentration; it is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI). This type of drug has become the drug of choice for treating clinical depression. These drugs are some of the drugs classed as amines; compounds which contain nitrogen bonded to hydrocarbon groups .... Interestingly enough, serotonin (the compound that we want) is also an amine. You should be able to identify the amine group in each of these molecules. CH 2 CH 2 NHNH 2 Phenelzine O F 3 C CH(CH 2 ) 2 NHCH 3 Fluoxetine HO CH 2 CH 2 NH 2 Serotonin
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-259- Legal Stimulants Nitrogen atoms are also components of rings in two naturally occurring stimulants; nicotine and caffeine .....
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