Radiotracer imaging of dopaminergic transmission in neuropsychiatric disorders
This article will review the capabilities and accomplishments of radiotracer imaging with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) to measure pre-, post-, and ”intra-synaptic” aspects of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurotransmission. The presynaptic site can be labeled with probes for the dopamine transporter (DAT) or the synthetic enzyme aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase (”dopa decarboxylase”). The postsynaptic sites can be labeled with probes for either the dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) or the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R). The ”synaptic” measurements are made indirectly by measurements of the interaction/displacement of receptor tracers by endogenous dopamine (DA). Agents are used which either release (e.g., amphetamine) or deplete (e.g., alpha-methyl-paratyrosine (AMPT), an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase) tissue stores of DA. The application of these paradigms will be reviewed with special emphasis to neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (IPD).
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