Cerebral morphology and dopamine D2/D3 receptor distribution in humans: a combined [18F]fallypride and voxel-based morphometry study

Neuroimage. 2009 May 15;46(1):31-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.049. Epub 2009 Feb 5.


The relationship between cerebral morphology and the expression of dopamine receptors has not been extensively studied in humans. Elucidation of such relationships may have important methodological implications for clinical studies of dopamine receptor ligand binding differences between control and patient groups. The association between cerebral morphology and dopamine receptor distribution was examined in 45 healthy subjects who completed T1-weighted structural MRI and PET scanning with the D(2)/D(3) ligand [(18)F]fallypride. Optimized voxel-based morphometry was used to create grey matter volume and density images. Grey matter volume and density images were correlated with binding potential (BP(ND)) images on a voxel-by-voxel basis using the Biological Parametric Mapping toolbox. Associations between cerebral morphology and BP(ND) were also examined for selected regions-of-interest (ROIs) after spatial normalization. Voxel-wise analyses indicated that grey matter volume and density positively correlated with BP(ND) throughout the midbrain, including the substantia nigra. Positive correlations were observed in medial cortical areas, including anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex, and circumscribed regions of the temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes. ROI analyses revealed significant positive correlations between BP(ND) and cerebral morphology in the caudate, thalamus, and amygdala. Few negative correlations between morphology and BP(ND) were observed. Overall, grey matter density appeared more strongly correlated with BP(ND) than grey matter volume. Cerebral morphology, particularly grey matter density, correlates with [(18)F]fallypride BP(ND) in a regionally specific manner. Clinical studies comparing dopamine receptor availability between clinical and control groups may benefit by accounting for potential differences in cerebral morphology that exist even after spatial normalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3 / metabolism*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3