Biogenic amine is a chemically imprecise term, which, by convention, includes the catecholamines: Epinephrine (or Adrenaline), Norepinephrine (or Noradrenaline) and Dopamine, the indoleamine Serotonin, the imidazolamine Histamine and compounds closely related to each of these. They are produced by decarboxylation of amino acids.
These biogenic amines play key roles in neurotransmission and other signalling functions.
The concentrations of catecholamines may be determined in serum, plasma, urine, other body fluids and even cell culture supernatants. The most commonly used methodology is HPLC combined with electrochemical detection. However this methodology is subject to analytical error, when synthetic sympatho-mimetic therapeutic agents, in comparatively high concentrations present, interfere with the quantitative determination of endogenous catecholamines. Peaks arriving from these synthetic agents will mask the biogenic amine peaks, making exact determinations almost impossible.
An alternative and more specific method for the determination of biogenic amines in any type of sample is immuno-assay, whether as radioimmunoassay (RIA) or enzyme immunoassay (ELISA).