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Schizophr Bull. 1995;21(1):53-66.

Assessment of the central dopaminergic index of plasma HVA in schizophrenia.

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Psychiatry Service, Houston VA Medical Center, TX 77030, USA.


Under fasting conditions, the dopamine (DA) metabolite homovanillic acid (HVA) in plasma originates mainly from central DA neurons or from central and peripheral noradrenergic (NA) neurons. The latter source contributes, in addition to HVA, the norepinephrine metabolites, for example, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG). It has been shown in primates that the association between HVA and MHPG in plasma or urine under varying rates of NA metabolism can be used to obtain an estimate of the central DA neuronal contribution of HVA to plasma or urine. This estimate is called the central dopaminergic index (CDI). Two studies presented here examine the applicability of this model in schizophrenia patients. The results were consistent with the proposed model and suggested that only about 30 percent of the total plasma HVA concentrations in our patients were derived from central DA neurons. A convenient modification of this model is proposed for future studies. Since the CDI of plasma HVA is not likely to be confounded by NA activity, this tool may prove useful in disentangling the roles played by the DA and NA systems in schizophrenia.

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