The dopamine hypothesis has been the most widely known theory concerning schizophrenia. However, the exact mechanism including presynaptic dopaminergic activity and its relationship with symptom severity still remains to be revealed. We measured presynaptic dopamine synthesis using positron emission tomography (PET) with L-[β-11C]DOPA in 18 patients with schizophrenia (14 drug-naïve and 4 drug-free patients) and 20 control participants. Dopamine synthesis rates, expressed as ki values, were obtained using a graphical method, and the occipital cortex was used as reference region. Regions of interest were placed on the prefrontal cortex, temporal cortex, anterior cingulate, parahippocampus, thalamus, caudate nucleus, and putamen. Psychopathology was assessed with the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS). We found significantly higher ki values in patients than in controls in the left caudate nucleus, but not in the other regions. The ki values in the thalamus exhibited a significant positive correlation with the PANSS total scores. Furthermore, a significant positive correlation was observed between the PANSS positive subscale scores and ki values in the right temporal cortex. Patients with schizophrenia showed higher dopamine synthesis in the left caudate nucleus, and dopaminergic transmission in the thalamus and right temporal cortex might be implicated in the expression of symptoms in schizophrenia.
- Dopamine synthesis
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry