No association between cortical dopamine D2 receptor availability and cognition in antipsychotic-naive first-episode psychosis

NPJ Schizophr. 2021 Sep 21;7(1):46. doi: 10.1038/s41537-021-00176-x.


Cognitive impairment is an important predictor of disability in schizophrenia. Dopamine neurotransmission in cortical brain regions has been suggested to be of importance for higher-order cognitive processes. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between extrastriatal dopamine D2-R availability and cognitive function, using positron emission tomography and the high-affinity D2-R radioligand [11C]FLB 457, in an antipsychotic-naive sample of 18 first-episode psychosis patients and 16 control subjects. We observed no significant associations between D2-R binding in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or hippocampus (β = 0.013-0.074, partial r = -0.037-0.273, p = 0.131-0.841). Instead, using Bayesian statistics, we found moderate support for the null hypothesis of no relationship (BFH0:H1 = 3.3-8.2). Theoretically, our findings may suggest a lack of detrimental effects of D2-R antagonist drugs on cognition in schizophrenia patients, in line with clinical observations.