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Schizophr Res. 2006 Jul;85(1-3):232-44. Epub 2006 May 19.

D2/D3 dopamine receptor binding with [F-18]fallypride in thalamus and cortex of patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.



Abnormalities in the dopaminergic system are implicated in schizophrenia. [F-18]fallypride is a highly selective, high affinity PET ligand well suited for measuring D2/D3 receptor availability in the extrastriatal regions of the brain including thalamus, prefrontal, cingulate, and temporal cortex, brain regions implicated in schizophrenia with other imaging modalities.


Resting [F-18]fallypride PET studies were acquired together with anatomical MRI for accurate coregistration and image analysis on 15 drug naïve schizophrenics (10 men, 5 women, mean age 28.5 years) and 15 matched controls (9 men, 6 women, mean age 27.4 years). Dopamine D2/D3 receptor levels were measured as binding potential (BP). The fallypride BP images of each subject were spatially normalized and subsequently smoothed for group comparison. Measures of significance between the schizophrenic and control groups were determined using statistical parametric mapping (SPM). The medial dorsal nucleus and pulvinar were also traced on coregistered MRI for detailed assessment of BP in these regions.


The thalamus of patients with schizophrenia had lower [F-18]fallypride BP than normal controls and this was the brain area with the greatest difference (range -8.5% to -27.2%). Left medial dorsal nucleus and left pulvinar showed the greatest decreases (-21.6% and -27.2% respectively). The patients with schizophrenia also demonstrated D2/D3 BP reduction in the amygdala region, cingulate gyrus, and the temporal cortices.


These findings suggest that drug naïve patients with schizophrenia have significant reductions in extrastratial D2/D3 receptor availability. The reductions were most prominent in regions of the thalamus, replicating other studies both with high affinity D2/D3 ligands and consistent with FDG-PET studies, further supporting the hypothesis of thalamic abnormalities in this patient population.

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