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Q J Nucl Med. 1998 Sep;42(3):211-21.

Imaging dopamine transmission in schizophrenia. A review and meta-analysis.

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Brain Imaging Division, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 10032, USA.


Over the last ten years, several positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon computerized tomography (SPECT) studies of the dopamine (DA) system in patients with schizophrenia were performed to test the hypothesis that DA hyperactivity is associated with this illness. In this paper, we reviewed the results of fifteen brain imaging studies comparing indices of DA function in drug naive or drug free patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls: thirteen studies included measurement of DA D2 receptors density, two studies compared amphetamine-induced DA release, and two studies measured DOPA decarboxylase activity, an enzyme involved in DA synthesis. We conducted a meta-analysis of the studies measuring D2 receptor density parameters, under the assumption that all tracers labeled the same population of D2 receptors. This analysis revealed that, compared to healthy controls, patients with schizophrenia present a significant but mild elevation of D2 receptor density parameters and a significant larger variability of these indices. We found no statistical evidence that studies performed with radiolabeled butyrophenones detected a larger increase in D2 receptor density parameters than studies performed with other radioligands, such as benzamides. Studies of presynaptic activity revealed an increase in DA transmission response to amphetamine challenge, and an increase in DOPA decarboxylase activity. Together, these data are compatible with both pre- and post-synaptic alterations of DA transmission in schizophrenia. Future studies should aim at a better characterization of these alterations, and at defining their role in the pathophysiology of the illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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