Imaging of the dopamine transporter predicts pattern of disease progression and response to levodopa in patients with schizophrenia and parkinsonism: a 2-year follow-up multicenter study

Schizophr Res. 2014 Feb;152(2-3):344-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.11.028. Epub 2013 Dec 25.


Similarly to subjects with degenerative parkinsonism, (123)I-FP-CIT SPECT has been reported either normal or abnormal in patients with drug-induced parkinsonism (DIP), challenging the notion that parkinsonism might be entirely due to post-synaptic D2-receptors blockade by antipsychotic drugs. In a previous multicenter cross-sectional study conducted on a large sample of patients with schizophrenia, we identified 97 patients who developed parkinsonism with a similar bi-modal distribution of DAT-SPECT. In this longitudinal study, we reported clinical and imaging features associated with progression of motor disability over 2-year follow-up in 60 out of those 97 patients with schizophrenia and parkinsonism who underwent (123)I-FP-CIT SPECT at baseline evaluation (normal SPECT=33; abnormal SPECT=27). As second end-point, chronic response to levodopa over a 3-month period was tested in a subgroup of subjects. Motor Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) at follow-up significantly increased in patients with abnormal SPECT. Specifically, a 6-point worsening was demonstrated in 18.5% of the subjects with abnormal SPECT and in none of the subjects with normal SPECT. Levodopa treatment improved motor UPDRS only in the group with abnormal SPECT. After adjustment for possible confounders, linear regression analysis demonstrated that abnormal SPECT findings at baseline were the only predictor of motor disability progression and of better outcome of levodopa treatment. Our results support the notion that a degenerative disease might underlie parkinsonism in a minority of schizophrenic patients chronically exposed to antipsychotics. Functional imaging of the dopamine transporter can be helpful to select this patient sub-group that might benefit from levodopa therapy.

Keywords: (123)I-FP-CIT SPECT; 123I-FP-CIT SPECT; APs; Antipsychotic drugs; DAT; DIP; DRBA; Dopamine receptor blocking agents; Drug-induced parkinsonism; Levodopa; PD; Parkinson's disease; Schizophrenia; UPDRS III=Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale; antipsychotic drugs; dopamine receptor blocking agents; dopamine transporter; motor section; single photon emission computed tomography of dopamine transporter.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Disease Progression
  • Dopamine Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / complications
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Tropanes


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Tropanes
  • 2-carbomethoxy-8-(3-fluoropropyl)-3-(4-iodophenyl)tropane
  • Levodopa