Differentiation of extrastriatal dopamine D2 receptor density and affinity in the human brain using PET

Neuroimage. 2004 Jun;22(2):794-803. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.02.002.


Dopaminergic neurotransmission in extrastriatal regions may play a crucial role in the pathophysiology and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. The high-affinity radioligands [(11)C]FLB 457, [(123)I]epidepride, and [(18)F]fallypride are now used in clinical studies to measure these low-density receptor populations in vivo. However, a single determination of the regional binding potential (BP) does not differentiate receptor density (B(max)) from the apparent affinity (K(D)). In this positron emission tomography (PET) study, we measured extrastriatal dopamine D2 receptor density (B(max)) and apparent affinity (K(D)) in 10 healthy subjects using an in vivo saturation approach. Each subject participated in two to three PET measurements with different specific radioactivity of [(11)C]FLB 457. The commonly used simplified reference tissue model (SRTM) was used in a comparison of BP values with the B(max) values obtained from the saturation analysis. The calculated regional receptor density values were of the same magnitude (0.33-1.68 nM) and showed the same rank order as reported from postmortem studies, that is, in descending order thalamus, lateral temporal cortex, anterior cinguli, and frontal cortex. The affinity ranged from 0.27 to 0.43 nM, that is, approximately 10-20 times the value found in vitro (20 pM). The area under the cerebellar time activity curve (TAC) was slightly lower (11 +/- 8%, mean +/- SD, P = 0.004, n = 10) after injection of low as compared with high specific radioactivity, indicating sensitivity to the minute density of dopamine D2 receptors in the this region. The results of the present study support that dopamine D2 receptor density and affinity can be differentiated in low-density regions using a saturation approach. There was a significant (P < 0.001) correlation between the binding potential calculated with SRTM and the receptor density (B(max)), which supports the use of BP in clinical studies where differentiation of B(max) and K(D) is not required. In such studies, the mass of FLB 457 has to be less than 0.5 microg injected to avoid a mass effect of the radioligand itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoradiography / methods
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Computer Simulation
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Neurological
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pyrrolidines / administration & dosage
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Raclopride / pharmacokinetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism*
  • Salicylamides / administration & dosage
  • Salicylamides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Salicylamides
  • FLB 457
  • Raclopride