Seasonality of striatal dopamine synthesis capacity in Parkinson's disease

Neurosci Lett. 2012 Nov 14;530(1):80-4. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.09.047. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


Recent neuroimaging evidence suggests that the healthy human brain dopaminergic system may show seasonal rhythmicity, as striatal dopamine synthesis capacity has been reported to be higher during fall and winter. There is additional evidence about season of birth effects on morbidity in several neuropsychiatric disorders. We investigated possible seasonal changes in dopamine synthesis capacity in a relatively large sample of Parkinson's disease patients. 6-[(18)F]fluoro-l-DOPA brain PET scans for 109 Parkinson's disease patients were performed during different seasons and the effects of season of scanning and season of birth on striatal tracer uptake were studied, controlling for covariates such as age, sex and disease severity. The patients scanned during fall and winter had 15% higher tracer uptake in the right putamen compared to patients scanned during spring and summer (p=0.04). Patients born during winter and spring had 10% higher dopamine synthesis capacity in the left caudate (p=0.008), 8% higher capacity in the right caudate (p=0.04) and 16% higher capacity in the putamen contralateral to the side of predominant motor symptoms (p=0.02) compared to patients born during summer and fall (after correcting for differences in age, sex, disease severity, scanner and season of scanning). The results suggest that there are seasonal oscillations also in the hypoactive dopaminergic system of Parkinson's disease patients. Findings concerning season of birth further suggest that there may be gestational or perinatal seasonal factors, which influence dopaminergic function in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dopamine / biosynthesis*
  • Dopamine Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Putamen / diagnostic imaging
  • Putamen / metabolism
  • Seasons*


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • fluorodopa F 18
  • Levodopa
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Dopamine