Brain chem: double shot of MAO A, cream, no sugar.

There’s this enzyme called MAO A. It takes a neurotransmitter and slices it up for parts. The neurotransmitters it typically likes are the excitable ones: adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonine.

I have a faulty gene coding for this enzyme. One of the basepairs is double mutated. G codes for higher activity of this enzyme, T for lower. I have two T’s, my enzyme doesn’t work as well as it could.

Now before everyone runs over to dr.Wiki and starts talking about Brunner Syndrome and oversexed violent people, that research is about one family (albeit Dutch) and about a specific mutation that put the whole gene out of commission. My mutation involves a base pair that (I suspect) downregulates the gene and is actually quite common.

But I need to read loads more about it. I did some earlier today and got really excited. But now I’m too fogged to put it all together in a sensible way.
I’m going to put some things here anyway, just for funsies, and hope to come back to it later and sort it out.

 pic by David Schauer

Epinephrine doesn’t get cleared away at a normal rate. It pools up and as it’s an excitatory neurotransmitter, it bounces around in my synapses, making my head resemble a pin ball machine. This is actually how I have described my mental state and capacity for many years.

You know what’s that like, right?

 pic by Eziquel (zick) Boita

You’re wired, sharp, ready to move a mountain, fight a lion and kick some ass. Yeah baby! You are ALIVE!
It’s very akin to being over-caffeinated. Caffeine does indeed raise adrenaline.

This is what I felt like for 35 years. Apart from feeling ALIVE this is also Fight or Flight. This is feeling smart and on top of the world but at the same time wrecking the body because there’s no time or room for slow, healing processes.

While the (nor)epinephrine builds up and pools because the clean up crew is working with one hand tied behind their back, the body shuts down production of NE because there’s just too much. Then, when the NE eventually does get cleared away, there’s a gross shortage of the stuff.

Having your MAO A not work properly causes you to have all kinds of peaks and lows other people have not. In your mood. Mood swings!
I had noticed that my feelings had a more wide amplitude than those of my friends, classmates and mates at university. Also, they could swing really fast.

pic by Samuel Ascaso Piqueras

“Because the nerve circuits in the prefrontal brain regions, which are normally involved in attention, require high levels of dopamine and noradrenaline stimulation, reduced levels of these two neurotransmitters could potentially lead to the weakened regulation of attention and behavior observed in ADHD .”

“Methylphenidate, the active ingredients in Ritalin®, acts like a weak form of cocaine to increase dopamine and noradrenaline levels but tends to do it all over the brain sometimes resulting in unwanted side-effects such as nervousness, drowsiness, insomnia, suspicion and paranoia.”

“Norepinephrine, which is closely related to dopamine, is the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls many automatic functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain several of the non-movement features of Parkinson’s, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased gastric motility or movement of food through the digestive tract, and postural hypotension. ”

At the forums of I found a few others with this mutation and hearing how they live their lives makes all kinds of sense to me. They thrive on flat blood sugar levels. They too only need a morsel of a drug or supplement to notice its effect. They know about coffee.

It’s so nice to recognize! I have much to learn from them.

This mutation offers a sensible explanation for my sensitivity. Any jump in adrenaline has an after effect long after the event.

Because of the delayed decrease and pooling of the neurotransmitters it’s good to have an uneventful day. It also explains why the band of comfort with supplements and drugs is very narrow. Basically it explains why I am so ridiculously sensitive to things. The sensitivity my doctor compares to autistic sensitivity.

It seems cortisol has a balancing effect on (nor)epinephrine?

“The other two neurotransmitters that have been implicated as playing an important role in sleep are norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5-HT).”It might be that high NE invites a rise in cortisol. If Deep Sleep causes NE to rise and in my case uncomfortably high, cortisol might kick in to try and dampen it. But it’s too much and I wake up and lie awake, waiting for the cortisol to leave the system.

I read a piece about how at night the body plays pretend-inflammation because it needs to do certain things for which it needs the higher temperature. I do know brain temp rises. It isn’t actual inflamation. But an overly dramatic imune system might think so, causing cortisol to rise.

I have to reread it and try and understand but at the moment: brain fog.

A little more about MAO A. It sits on the X-chromosome. I have two faulty alleles. So my mother AND my father(‘s mother) gave me a faulty allele.

This means that my father has the same disfunction that I have, a homozygote, him having only one X-chromosome. And so does my brother. They must have the same peaks and lows in their adrenaline.

Well…..we ARE a family that comes across as being over-cafeïnated….
My whole family from father’s side does. We are smart, fast, ALIVE, intense, quick silvery. We’re the people you want to be close to in a crisis, we will get you out. It may be this one allele causing it all.

pic by michelle kwajafa

Of course, the whole of modern society is overcafeinated. We LOVE quick, smart, fast and extravert. So it might be that my inborn tendency (the mutation) was exagareted by the time and society I live in.

I have not had the pin ball machine head for a few years now… Also, the “inner pounding” (roaring, ‘daveren’ in Dutch) has been gone for a while now.
Both since I started progesterone. And Valerian.

(Valerian does something with some neurotransmitters…. need to refind.. GABA, it interacts with GABA. It’s an agonist, a promotor.

“GABA does not penetrate the blood–brain barrier; it is synthesized in the brain. It is synthesized from glutamate using the enzyme L-glutamic acid decarboxylase and pyridoxal phosphate (which is the active form of vitamin B6) as a cofactor. GABA is converted back to glutamate by a metabolic pathway called the GABA shunt. This process converts glutamate, the principal excitatory neurotransmitter, into the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA).
It gets transformed and it used as fuel for the citric acid cycle”
Need to read up on GABA and glutamate and wether all enzymes for their pathways are good in me.)

Now I’ve lost the plot. But I’m very interested. It ties together the pinball machine, the constant Fight or Flight, the sensitivity, the parasympathethic nervous system and the mutation. Above all: it ties together some particular characteristics I have noticed in me compared to other people. I’ll go to sleep now, talk to you later.
pic by Florin Garoi


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s