THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Thyroid hormones are not the only hormones in regulation of the metabolism! There is another set of hormones – thyroid amines (T1AM and other) – that act as an antagonistic force to the commonly known thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Thus, the metabolic equilibrium of the body is determined by a very precise balance between these two sets of hormones.
The thyroid gland also produces thyronamines present in trace amounts. The reason why even the best endocrinologist do not know or care about this is because for many years after thyroid trace amines were discovered, they were thought to be useless byproducts of thyroid metabolism. That believe was radically challenged among a little over decade ago when neuroscientists have discovered a new receptor in the central nervous system and other organs of the body – called trace amine receptors. Since then the understanding of trace amines and their role in psychiatric, neurologic and metabolic illness has been expanding rapidly. There is always, however, a long lag before the breakthrough discoveries of bench science become translated into clinical applications. The knowledge that is available today will drastically change the way we approach much of currently untreatable neurologic and psychiatric condition twenty years from now. But if you have chronic fatigue syndrome or dysautonomia, you can’t afford to wait twenty years. That means we have to make the best of the limited knowledge that is available to us right now while urging the medical world to catch up.
You have no doubt heard of the “major league” amines such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and histamine, which serve as “classical neurotransmitters” in the body. Their dysregulation has been linked to a great number of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, migraine and others.
However, most people have never heard that there is also the “minor league” that includes a group of different amine molecules which are present in concentrations much, much lower than the ones I listed above. Their concentrations, are in fact so low that they’ve been dubbed “trace amines” (similar to trace mineral elements). But do not make a mistake to assume that just because they are small they are not mighty. Trace amines are just as important to your wellbeing as trace elements, and they actually appear to be in charge of the “major” players.
Trace amines that have been discovered so far include:
Phenethylamine (PEA, synthesized from pneylalanine, a major player in ADHD, addiction, and mood disorders).
Tyramine (synthesized from tyrosine, an important player in cardiovascular function). Tyramine is converted to two lesser understood amines called octopamine and synephrine.
Tryptamine (synthesized from tryptophan). Tryptamine molecule has long been the favorite of psychonauts who use synthetic drugs to elevate tryptamines levels to enhance awareness and experience spiritual states. (If PEA has been dubbed the molecule of romantic love or the general sense of feeling “in love”, tryptamines might be behind the universal meaning of the word “love” that spiritual and religious teachers talk about.
TRACE AMINE SYNTHESIS
Phenylethylamine, tyramine and tryptamine are all produced by the action of two enzyme called L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and biopterin dependentarmotaci amni acid hydroxylase (AAAH). Octopamine is produced by dopamine beta-monooxygenase (DBH), which is also responsible for synthesis of norepinephrine from dopamine.
The enzyme catechol -O-methyltransferase (COMT) convertes dopamine into 3-methoxytyramine.
Iodothryonamines – trace amines produced by deiodination of thyroid hormone within thyroid gland and within gut lining (exact mechanism is not yet known), likely involving gut flora. These serve as counterparts to the actual thyroid hormone, and have been implicated in producing a so called state of dauer or hybernation (which appears to be a biological signature of patients with CFS based on Naviaux metabolomics study). The ability of large doses of the most potent idodothyronamine, T1AM, has already attracted attention of NASA who are looking into options to develop a state of hibernation for long term space travel. (I doubt it will work though since high doses of T1AM have turned out lethal in rats).
Apart from their direct effects on the body and brain, trace amines also affect the function of major amines through their effects on TAAR (trace amine associated receptors).