Are dopamine receptor and transporter changes in Rett syndrome reflected in Mecp2-deficient mice?

Exp Neurol. 2018 Sep;307:74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2018.05.019. Epub 2018 May 18.


We tested the claim that the dopaminergic dysfunction of Rett Syndrome (RTT) also occurs in Mecp2-deficient mice that serve as a model of the syndrome. We used positron emission tomography (PET) to image dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) and transporters (DAT) in women with RTT and in Mecp2-deficient mice, and D1R and D2R density was measured in postmortem human tissue by autoradiography. Results showed 1) significantly reduced D2R density in the striatum of women with RTT compared to control subjects. 2) PET imaging of mouse striatum similarly demonstrated significant reductions in D2R density of 7-10 week-old hemizygous (Mecp2-null) and heterozygous (HET) mice compared to wild type (WT) mice. With age, the density of D2R declined in WT mice but not HET mice. 3) In contrast, postmortem autoradiography revealed no group differences in the density of D1R and D2R in the caudate and putamen of RTT versus normal control subjects. 4) In humans and in the mouse model, PET revealed only marginal group differences in DAT. The results confirm that dopaminergic dysfunction in RTT is also present in Mecp2-deficient mice and that reductions in D2R more likely explain the impaired ambulation and progressive rigidity observed rather than alterations in DAT.

Keywords: Autoradiography; Binding potential; Gene mutation; Intellectual disability; Neurotransmitter; Nigrostriatal pathway; Partial volume correction; Positron emission tomography; Postmortem; Radioligand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / deficiency*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / biosynthesis*
  • Rett Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rett Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • DRD2 protein, mouse
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mecp2 protein, mouse
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2