Presynaptic dopamine in schizophrenia

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2011 Apr;17(2):104-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2010.00230.x. Epub 2010 Dec 27.


Presynaptic dopamine (DA) transmission has been measured in schizophrenia using different paradigms aimed at providing estimates of the integrity or the activity of the presynaptic dopaminergic neuron. RESEARCHERS HAVE MEASURED: (1) DA synthesis capacity with [(18) F]DOPA, a measure of the activity of dopa decarboxylase, (2) DA release with studies measuring the impact of a DA releasing stimulant challenge on the binding of a D(2) receptor radiotracer, (3) D(2) baseline occupancy by DA, a measure of baseline intrasynaptic DA, assessed by the changes in binding of D(2) radiotracer induced by DA depletion, and (4) the DA and the vesicular monoamine transporters, to assess the integrity of presynaptic terminals. The relationship between DA release and D(2) receptor occupancy at baseline by DA has also been assessed in the same patients. Overall, these different imaging modalities have converged to show a dysregulation of presynaptic dopaminergic activity in schizophrenia, leading to excessive DA release in the striatum, particularly in the projection to the associative striatum, an area of integration between cognitive and limbic cortical inputs. Excessive striatal presynaptic DA is linked to the emergence of acute psychotic symptoms and to their response to treatment in schizophrenia. Understanding the etiology of this dysregulation and its consequences on the rest of the circuitry is important for future drug development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*


  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine