Dopamine D2 receptors in normal human brain: effect of age measured by positron emission tomography (PET) and [11C]-raclopride

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993 Sep 24;695:81-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1993.tb23033.x.


Human post-mortem and animal experimental results suggest a decline of the cerebral dopaminergic neuronal system with age. In this study, the radiotracer [11C]raclopride (dopamine D2 antagonist) and positron emission tomography were applied to determine the effect of age on striatal dopamine D2 receptors in 32 healthy volunteer subjects (age range 21-68 years). Subjects were divided in two age groups on the basis of median age (31 years). An index for specific tracer uptake was calculated for caudate nucleus and putamen. Uptake indices in the older group of subjects were reduced on average 26% in putamen and 20% in caudate nucleus. The decline appeared to be steep until 30 years, but slower afterwards. After 30 years of age the decline of specific raclopride binding was found to be 0.6% per year. These results suggest that dopamine D2 receptor binding sites (mainly post-synaptically located) decrease as a consequence of normal aging in parallel with the decline of the pre-synaptic nigrostriatal dopaminergic system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Caudate Nucleus / metabolism
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Putamen / metabolism
  • Raclopride
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / analysis*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Reference Values
  • Salicylamides / metabolism*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Salicylamides
  • Raclopride