Send to

Choose Destination
Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 May;31(5):716-26. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20900.

Human dopamine receptor D2/D3 availability predicts amygdala reactivity to unpleasant stimuli.

Author information

Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany.


Dopamine (DA) modulates the response of the amygdala. However, the relation between dopaminergic neurotransmission in striatal and extrastriatal brain regions and amygdala reactivity to affective stimuli has not yet been established. To address this issue, we measured DA D2/D3 receptor (DRD2/3) availability in twenty-eight healthy men (nicotine-dependent smokers and never-smokers) using positron emission tomography with [18F]fallypride. In the same group of participants, amygdala response to unpleasant visual stimuli was determined using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging. The effects of DRD2/3 availability in emotion-related brain regions and nicotine dependence on amygdala response to unpleasant stimuli were examined by multiple regression analysis. We observed enhanced prefrontal DRD2/3 availability in those individuals with higher amygdala response to unpleasant stimuli. As compared to never-smokers, smokers showed an attenuated amygdala BOLD response to unpleasant stimuli. Thus, individuals with high prefrontal DRD2/3 availability may be more responsive toward aversive and stressful information. Through this mechanism, dopaminergic neurotransmission might influence vulnerability for affective and anxiety disorders. Neuronal reactivity to unpleasant stimuli seems to be reduced by smoking. This observation could explain increased smoking rates in individuals with mental disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center