Previous in vivo imaging studies reported no difference in dopamine transporter (DAT) bindings in the striatum between control subjects and patients with schizophrenia. However, as the signals of radioligands with moderate affinity were insufficient for allowing the evaluation of small amounts of DAT, DAT binding in extrastriatal regions has not been determined. Positron emission tomography scanning using [11C]PE2I was performed on eight patients with schizophrenia and twelve normal control subjects. Binding potential (BPND) for DAT in the caudate, putamen, thalamus and substantia nigra was calculated, using the cerebellum as reference region. In patients with schizophrenia, clinical symptoms were evaluated by Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). BPND in the thalamus of patients with schizophrenia was significantly higher than in control subjects (P = 0.044). In patients with schizophrenia, there were significantly positive correlations between BPND in the thalamus and total (r = 0.75), positive (r = 0.78) and negative PANSS scores (r = 0.82). Altered DAT in the thalamus might be related to the pathophysiology and clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.
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