Striatal dopamine D2 receptors in modulation of pain in humans: a review

Eur J Pharmacol. 2004 Oct 1;500(1-3):187-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2004.07.024.


We review evidence indicating that the striatum and striatal dopamine D2 receptors are involved in the regulation of pain in humans. Painful stimulation produces an increase in regional cerebral blood flow in the human striatum. Pain is a common symptom in patients with nigrostriatal dopaminergic hypofunction. Positron emission tomography findings show that a low dopamine D2 receptor availability in the striatum of healthy subjects (indicating either a low density of dopamine D2 receptors or a high synaptic concentration of dopamine) is associated with a high cold pain threshold and a low capacity to recruit central pain inhibition by conditioning stimulation. Patients with chronic orofacial pain have higher dopamine D2 receptor availability than their age-matched controls. We propose that the striatal dopamine D2 receptor may be an important target for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Humans
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow


  • Receptors, Dopamine D2