Catecholamines, i. e. noradrenaline (norepinephrine), adrenaline (epinephrine) and dopamine, are endogenous transmitters. The drugs which have effects similar to those of catecholamines are generally called sympathomimetic. The drugs which inhibit the receptors of catecholamines, according to their specificity of action, are called alpha or beta adrenolytics (or alpha-blockers, beta-blockers) and dopaminergic antagonists.

Catecholamines consist of a benzene nucleus substituted in position 1 by a carbon chain carrying one amine function (monoamine), and in position 3 and 4 by two hydroxyl groups which form with benzene the nucleus catechol.
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