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Neurosci Lett. 2006 Sep 25;405(3):196-201. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Imaging gene-substance interactions: the effect of the DRD2 TaqIA polymorphism and the dopamine agonist bromocriptine on the brain activation during the anticipation of reward.

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Center for Psychiatry, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Am Steg 28, D-35385 Giessen, Germany.


Dopamine is known as the main neurotransmitter modulating the activation of the reward system of the brain. The DRD2 TaqIA polymorphism is associated with dopamine D2 receptor density which plays an important role in the context of reward. Persons carrying an A1 allele have a lower D2 receptor density and a higher risk to show substance abuse. The present study was designed to investigate the influence of the DRD2 TaqIA polymorphism and the selective D2 receptor agonist bromociptine on the activation of the reward system by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In a double-blind crossover study with 24 participants we found an increase of reward system activation from placebo to bromocriptine only in subjects carrying the A1 allele. Furthermore, only A1 carrier showed an increase of performance under bromocriptine. The results are interpreted as reflecting a specific sensitivity for dopamine agonists in persons carrying an A1 allele and may complement actual data and theories of the development of addiction disorders postulating a higher genetic risk for substance abuse in carrier of the A1 allele.

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