Activation of striatal dopamine receptors by psychostimulants:
chemical anatomy, autonomic and behavioural effects

Neto PR.
PET Centre, Building 10, Arhus University Hospital,
Norrebrogade 44, DK-8000 Arhus C.
Dan Med Bull. 2005 Aug;52(3):114.


Pharmacological activation of dopamine neurotransmission can be assessed by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) studies of changes in the binding of radioligands for dopamine D2 receptors. The present thesis focuses on the use of this activation method to study receptor mapping, receptor pharmacology and behavioural aspects related to perturbation of dopamine neurotransmission in humans and animal models. This thesis first describes the use of PET to map the distributions of dopamine D2/3 and D1 receptors in pigs and in monkeys, frequently used models for dopamine activation studies. As in humans, pigs and monkeys had a negative rostro-caudal gradient in the t-maps calculated from the statistical contrast between the normalized binding maps for D1 and D2/3 receptors. A positive rostro-caudal gradient for D2/3 binding was observed only in monkeys. These results suggest a relative predominance of D1 over D2/3 receptors in the limbic striatum in mammals. In monkeys, D2/3 receptors were more predominant in the motor striatum; the apparent lack of gradients in 11C-raclopride binding in pig striatum might be attributed to their less sophisticated associative and motor circuits as compared to primates. The effects of the psychostimulant 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy") on cerebral blood flow (CBF) and dopamine receptor availability were tested. Unlike most previous studies of d-amphetamine, MDMA evoked a progressive decline of butyrophenone (11C-NMSP) binding. MDMA-evoked hyperthermia correlated with increased CBF brain structures linked to central regulation of body temperature. These results suggest that the co-release of dopamine and serotonin by MDMA may influence the patterns of binding changes in living striatum. ADHD is a highly prevalent pediatric neuropsychiatric disorder which is presently treated with psychostimulants. The effects of methylphenidate (0.3 mg/kg, p.o.) on the binding of 11C-raclopride was measured by PET in nine young ADHD patients. There was a negative correlation between the magnitude of methylphenidate-evoked decline in 11C-raclopride binding and the severity of inattention and impulsivity, measured by a continuous performance test. Thus, the dopamine activation paradigm was successfully used as a tool to link behavioural disturbance with reduced dopamine neurotransmission in patients with ADHD. Together, these findings highlight PET as a method for linking behavioural, autonomic and pharmacological aspects of dopaminergic activation with segregated striatal circuits.
The dual deficit model
Monoamine transporters
Dopamine reverse transport
Amphetamine and dopamine

and further reading
Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World