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J Nucl Med. 2009 Jan;50(1):45-52. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.108.053652. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Striatal dopamine transporter availability associated with polymorphisms in the dopamine transporter gene SLC6A3.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Polymorphisms in the dopamine transporter (DAT) gene SLC6A3 are associated with human striatal DAT expression, but the exact effects on DAT expression are not clear. A variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in the 3' untranslated region of the DAT gene was previously investigated in relation to striatal DAT availability, but the results were inconclusive. Other polymorphisms in the DAT gene were not extensively studied. Therefore, we investigated whether polymorphisms in both 3' and 5' ends of the DAT gene show association with in vivo striatal DAT expression.


The subjects were an ethnically homogeneous group of 79 healthy young adults. Striatal DAT availability was measured with 123I-(2-beta-carbomethoxy-3-beta(4-iodophenyl)-tropane) (123I-beta-CIT) SPECT. The 40-base-pair VNTR in the 3' untranslated region of the DAT gene and the 2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs2652511 and rs2937639 in the 5' end of the DAT gene were genotyped. Multiple-regression analysis was performed for each of the 3 polymorphisms. Analysis of the combination of the polymorphisms (haplotype analysis) was conducted for the triad rs2652511-rs2937639-VNTR.


For the VNTR, the 9-repeat (9R) allele was associated with significantly higher striatal DAT expression than was the 10-repeat (10R) allele (P=0.002). Subanalysis suggested a dominant effect for the 9R allele. Neither SNP rs2652511 nor SNP rs2937639 was associated with striatal DAT availability. The haplotype T-A-9R (rs2652511-rs2937639-VNTR) was significantly more associated with higher striatal DAT expression than were the other haplotypes (P=0.009).


The DAT VNTR 9R carriers have higher striatal DAT availability than do 10R homozygotes. This finding replicates former studies that included healthy subjects and also used 123I-beta-CIT SPECT. Our haplotype analysis identified a subgroup of 9R carriers, the T-A-9R, which appears to be mainly responsible for the association with higher striatal DAT availability. Thus, a combination of polymorphisms in both the 3' and the 5' ends of the DAT gene is associated with in vivo striatal DAT expression. This finding in healthy subjects may contribute to research on DAT availability and genotype in neuropsychiatric disorders.

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