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1.  Theta burst stimulation-induced inhibition of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reveals hemispheric asymmetry in striatal dopamine release during a set-shifting task – a TMS–[11C]raclopride PET study 
The European journal of neuroscience  2008;28(10):2147-2155.
The prefrontostriatal network is considered to play a key role in executive functions. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown that executive processes tested with card-sorting tasks requiring planning and set-shifting [e.g. Montreal-card-sorting-task (MCST)] may engage the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) while inducing dopamine release in the striatum. However, functional imaging studies can only provide neuronal correlates of cognitive performance and cannot establish a causal relation between observed brain activity and task performance. In order to investigate the contribution of the DLPFC during set-shifting and its effect on the striatal dopaminergic system, we applied continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to left and right DLPFC. Our aim was to transiently disrupt its function and to measure MCST performance and striatal dopamine release during [11C]raclopride PET. A significant hemispheric asymmetry was observed. cTBS of the left DLPFC impaired MCST performance and dopamine release in the ipsilateral caudate–anterior putamen and contralateral caudate nucleus, as compared to cTBS of the vertex (control). These effects appeared to be limited only to left DLPFC stimulation while right DLPFC stimulation did not influence task performance or [11C]raclopride binding potential in the striatum. This is the first study showing that cTBS, by disrupting left prefrontal function, may indirectly affect striatal dopamine neurotransmission during performance of executive tasks. This cTBS-induced regional prefrontal effect and modulation of the frontostriatal network may be important for understanding the contribution of hemisphere laterality and its neural bases with regard to executive functions, as well as for revealing the neurochemical substrate underlying cognitive deficits.
PMCID: PMC2967524  PMID: 19046396 CAMSID: cams1540
basal ganglia; executive function; positron emission tomography; transcranial magnetic stimulation
2.  Increased dopamine release in the right anterior cingulate cortex during the performance of a sorting task: A [11C]FLB 457 PET study 
NeuroImage  2009;46(2):516-521.
There is clear evidence that the prefrontal cortex is strongly involved in executive processes and that dopamine can influence performance on working memory tasks. Although, some studies have emphasized the role of striatal dopamine in executive functions, the role played by prefrontal dopamine during executive tasks is unknown. In order to investigate cortical dopamine transmission during executive function, we used D2-dopamine receptor ligand [11C]FLB 457 PET in healthy subjects while performing the Montreal Card Sorting Task (MCST). During the retrieval with shift task of the MCST, the subjects had to match each test card to one of the reference cards based on a classification rule (color, shape or number) determined by comparing the previously viewed cue card and the current test card. A reduction in [11C]FLB 457 binding potential in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was observed when subjects performed the active task compared to the control task. These findings may suggest that right dorsal ACC dopamine neurotransmission increases significantly during the performance of certain executive processes, e.g., conflict monitoring, in keeping with previous evidence from fMRI studies showing ACC activation during similar tasks. These results may provide some insights on the origin of cognitive deficits underlying certain neurological disorders associated with dopamine dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2972252  PMID: 19264140 CAMSID: cams1532
FLB 457; Positron emission tomography; Executive function; Anterior cingulate cortex; Dopamine; Conflict monitoring
3.  Hyperstimulation of striatal D2 receptors with sleep deprivation: Implications for cognitive impairment 
NeuroImage  2009;45(4):1232-1240.
Sleep deprivation interferes with cognitive performance but the mechanisms are poorly understood. We recently reported that one night of sleep deprivation increased dopamine in striatum (measured with [11C] raclopride, a PET radiotracer that competes with endogenous dopamine for binding to D2 receptors) and that these increases were associated with impaired performance in a visual attention task. To better understand this association here we evaluate the relationship between changes in striatal dopamine (measured as changes in D2 receptor availability using PET and [11C]raclopride) and changes in brain activation to a visual attention task (measured with BOLD and fMRI) when performed during sleep deprivation versus during rested wakefulness. We find that sleep induced changes in striatal dopamine were associated with changes in cortical brain regions modulated by dopamine (attenuated deactivation of anterior cingulate gyrus and insula) but also in regions that are not recognized targets of dopaminergic modulation (attenuated activation of inferior occipital cortex and cerebellum). Moreover, the increases in striatal dopamine as well as its associated regional activation and deactivation patterns correlated negatively with performance accuracy. These findings therefore suggest that hyperstimulation of D2 receptors in striatum may contribute to the impairment in visual attention during sleep deprivation. Thus, while dopamine increases in prefrontal regions (including stimulation of D1 receptors) may facilitate attention our findings suggest that hyperstimulation of D2 receptors in striatum may impair it. Alternatively, these associations may reflect a compensatory striatal dopamine response (to maintain arousal) that is superimposed on a larger response to sleep deprivation.
PMCID: PMC2714585  PMID: 19349237
Dopamine D2 receptors; Raclopride; Visual attention; PET; fMRI; Default network; Thalamus
4.  Probabilistic classification learning with corrective feedback is associated with in vivo striatal dopamine release in the ventral striatum, while learning without feedback is not 
Human Brain Mapping  2014;35(10):5106-5115.
The basal ganglia (BG) mediate certain types of procedural learning, such as probabilistic classification learning on the ‘weather prediction task’ (WPT). Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), who have BG dysfunction, are impaired at WPT-learning, but it remains unclear what component of the WPT is important for learning to occur. We tested the hypothesis that learning through processing of corrective feedback is the essential component and is associated with release of striatal dopamine. We employed two WPT paradigms, either involving learning via processing of corrective feedback (FB) or in a paired associate manner (PA). To test the prediction that learning on the FB but not PA paradigm would be associated with dopamine release in the striatum, we used serial 11C-raclopride (RAC) positron emission tomography (PET), to investigate striatal dopamine release during FB and PA WPT-learning in healthy individuals. Two groups, FB, (n = 7) and PA (n = 8), underwent RAC PET twice, once while performing the WPT and once during a control task. Based on a region-of-interest approach, striatal RAC-binding potentials reduced by 13–17% in the right ventral striatum when performing the FB compared to control task, indicating release of synaptic dopamine. In contrast, right ventral striatal RAC binding non-significantly increased by 9% during the PA task. While differences between the FB and PA versions of the WPT in effort and decision-making is also relevant, we conclude striatal dopamine is released during FB-based WPT-learning, implicating the striatum and its dopamine connections in mediating learning with FB.
PMCID: PMC4285817  PMID: 24777947
basal ganglia; 11C-raclopride positron emission tomography; non-motor skill learning; probabilistic learning; procedural learning; weather prediction task
5.  Striatal Dopamine Release in Sequential Learning 
NeuroImage  2007;38(3):549-556.
Sequential learning is an important aspect of cognitive processing. Neuropharmacological evidence acquired in laboratory animals suggests that striatal dopaminergic mechanisms may be important for processing of this form of learning. However, because experiments conducted on dopamine deficient patients have reported contradictory evidence, the role of dopamine and the striatum remains unclear in human sequential learning. We used a newly developed dynamic molecular imaging technique to determine whether striatal dopamine is released during performance of a sequential learning task. In this study we localized striatal regions where dopamine receptor ligand (11C-raclopride) was displaced from receptor sites, during performance of a motor sequence learning (serial reaction time) task. The results suggest that the task induces release of endogenous dopamine in the posterior two-third of dorsomedial aspect of left putamen and the anterior part of the body of caudate bilaterally. The activations of the left putamen and the right caudate coincided with the activations observed earlier during performance of a motor planning task. Since these activations are associated with the selection and execution of a response, the activation in the left caudate, which was not observed in motor planning, is probably associated with the detection of a change in the ‘context’, and in the formulation of a new ‘rule’. Thus, the results suggest that sequential learning involves two striatal dopaminergic mechanisms, one for the detection of a change in context, and the other for selection and execution of the response.
PMCID: PMC2077859  PMID: 17888684
6.  Changes in Striatal Dopamine Release Associated with Human Motor-Skill Acquisition 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31728.
The acquisition of new motor skills is essential throughout daily life and involves the processes of learning new motor sequence and encoding elementary aspects of new movement. Although previous animal studies have suggested a functional importance for striatal dopamine release in the learning of new motor sequence, its role in encoding elementary aspects of new movement has not yet been investigated. To elucidate this, we investigated changes in striatal dopamine levels during initial skill-training (Day 1) compared with acquired conditions (Day 2) using 11C-raclopride positron-emission tomography. Ten volunteers learned to perform brisk contractions using their non-dominant left thumbs with the aid of visual feedback. On Day 1, the mean acceleration of each session was improved through repeated training sessions until performance neared asymptotic levels, while improved motor performance was retained from the beginning on Day 2. The 11C-raclopride binding potential (BP) in the right putamen was reduced during initial skill-training compared with under acquired conditions. Moreover, voxel-wise analysis revealed that 11C-raclopride BP was particularly reduced in the right antero-dorsal to the lateral part of the putamen. Based on findings from previous fMRI studies that show a gradual shift of activation within the striatum during the initial processing of motor learning, striatal dopamine may play a role in the dynamic cortico-striatal activation during encoding of new motor memory in skill acquisition.
PMCID: PMC3280327  PMID: 22355391
7.  Comparison of PET template-based and MRI-based image processing in the quantitative analysis of C11-raclopride PET 
EJNMMI Research  2014;4:7.
Quantitative measures of 11C-raclopride receptor binding can be used as a correlate of postsynaptic D2 receptor density in the striatum, allowing 11C-raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) to be used for the differentiation of Parkinson’s disease from atypical parkinsonian syndromes. Comparison with reference values is recommended to establish a reliable diagnosis. A PET template specific to raclopride may facilitate direct computation of parametric maps without the need for an additional MR scan, aiding automated image analysis.
Sixteen healthy volunteers underwent a dynamic 11C-raclopride PET and a high-resolution T1-weighted MR scan of the brain. PET data from eight healthy subjects was processed to generate a raclopride-specific PET template normalized to standard space. Subsequently, the data processing based on the PET template was validated against the standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based method in 8 healthy subjects and 20 patients with suspected parkinsonian syndrome. Semi-quantitative image analysis was performed in Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) and in original image space (OIS) using VOIs derived from a probabilistic brain atlas previously validated by Hammers et al. (Hum Brain Mapp, 15:165–174, 2002).
The striatal-to-cerebellar ratio (SCR) of 11C-raclopride uptake obtained using the PET template was in good agreement with the MRI-based image processing method, yielding a Lin’s concordance coefficient of 0.87. Bland-Altman analysis showed that all measurements were within the ±1.96 standard deviation range. In all 20 patients, the PET template-based processing was successful and manual volume of interest optimization had no further impact on the diagnosis of PD in this patient group. A maximal difference of <5% was found between the measured SCR in MNI space and OIS.
The PET template-based method for automated quantification of postsynaptic D2 receptor density is simple to implement and facilitates rapid, robust and reliable image analysis. There was no significant difference between the SCR values obtained with either PET- or MRI-based image processing. The method presented alleviates the clinical workflow and facilitates automated image analysis.
PMCID: PMC3904930  PMID: 24451009
Neuroimaging; PET/MRI; Raclopride; Movement disorders
8.  Therapeutic application of transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson’s disease: The contribution of expectation 
NeuroImage  2006;31(4):1666-1672.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a valuable probe of brain function. Ever since its adoption as a research tool, there has been great interest regarding its potential clinical role. Presently, it is unclear whether rTMS will have some role as an alternative treatment for neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). To date, studies addressing the contribution of placebo during rTMS are missing. The placebo effect has been shown to be associated either with release of dopamine in the striatum or with changes in brain glucose metabolism. The main objective of this study was to test whether, in patients with PD, the expectation of therapeutic benefit from rTMS, which actually was delivered only as sham rTMS (placebo-rTMS) induced changes in striatal [11C] raclopride binding potentials (BP) as measured with positron emission tomography (PET). Placebo-rTMS induced a significant bilateral reduction in [11C] raclopride BP in dorsal and ventral striatum as compared to the baseline condition. This reduction BP is indicative of an increase in dopamine neurotransmission. The changes in [11C] raclopride binding were more evident in the hemisphere contralateral to the more affected side supporting the hypothesis that the more severe the symptoms, the greater the drive for symptom relief, and therefore the placebo response. This is the first study addressing the placebo contribution during rTMS. While our results seem to confirm earlier evidence that expectation induces dopaminergic placebo effects, they also suggest the importance of placebo-controlled studies for future clinical trials involving brain stimulation techniques.
PMCID: PMC2967525  PMID: 16545582 CAMSID: cams1537
Positron emission tomography; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine; Placebo; Expectation
9.  Lateralization and Gender Differences in the Dopaminergic Response to Unpredictable Reward in the Human Ventral Striatum 
The European journal of neuroscience  2011;33(9):1706-1715.
Electrophysiological studies showed that mesostriatal dopamine (DA) neurons increase activity in response to unpredicted rewards. With respect to other functions of the mesostriatal dopaminergic system, dopamine’s actions show prominent laterality effects. Whether changes in DA transmission elicited by rewards also are lateralized, however, has not been investigated. Using [11C]raclopride-PET to assess the striatal DA response to unpredictable monetary rewards, we hypothesized that such rewards would induce an asymmetric reduction of [11C]raclopride binding in the ventral striatum, reflecting lateralization of endogenous dopamine release. In 24 healthy volunteers, differences in the regional D2/3 receptor binding potential (ΔBP) between an unpredictable reward condition and a sensorimotor control condition were measured using the bolus-plus-constant-infusion [11C]raclopride method. During the reward condition subjects randomly received monetary awards while performing a “slot-machine” task. The ΔBP between conditions was assessed in striatal regions-of-interest and compared between left and right sides. We found a significant condition × lateralization interaction in the ventral striatum. A significant reduction in binding potential (BPND) in the reward condition versus the control condition was found only in the right ventral striatum, and the ΔBP was greater in the right than the left ventral striatum. Unexpectedly, these laterality effects appeared to be partly accounted for by sex differences, as our data showed a significant bilateral BPND reduction in women, while in men the reduction reached significance only in the right ventral striatum. These data suggest that DA release in response to unpredictable reward is lateralized in the human ventral striatum, particularly in males.
PMCID: PMC3086965  PMID: 21453423
positron emission tomography; dopamine; hemispheric; motivation
10.  Striatal dopaminergic dysfunction at rest and during task performance in writer’s cramp 
Brain  2013;136(12):3645-3658.
Writer’s cramp is a task-specific focal hand dystonia characterized by involuntary excessive muscle contractions during writing. Although abnormal striatal dopamine receptor binding has been implicated in the pathophysiology of writer’s cramp and other primary dystonias, endogenous dopamine release during task performance has not been previously investigated in writer’s cramp. Using positron emission tomography imaging with the D2/D3 antagonist 11C-raclopride, we analysed striatal D2/D3 availability at rest and endogenous dopamine release during sequential finger tapping and speech production tasks in 15 patients with writer’s cramp and 15 matched healthy control subjects. Compared with control subjects, patients had reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest in the bilateral striatum, consistent with findings in previous studies. During the tapping task, patients had decreased dopamine release in the left striatum as assessed by reduced change in 11C-raclopride binding compared with control subjects. One cluster of reduced dopamine release in the left putamen during tapping overlapped with a region of reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest. During the sentence production task, patients showed increased dopamine release in the left striatum. No overlap between altered dopamine release during speech production and reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest was seen. Striatal regions where D2/D3 availability at rest positively correlated with disease duration were lateral and non-overlapping with striatal regions showing reduced D2/D3 receptor availability, except for a cluster in the left nucleus accumbens, which showed a negative correlation with disease duration and overlapped with striatal regions showing reduced D2/D3 availability. Our findings suggest that patients with writer’s cramp may have divergent responses in striatal dopamine release during an asymptomatic motor task involving the dystonic hand and an unrelated asymptomatic task, sentence production. Our voxel-based results also suggest that writer’s cramp may be associated with reduced striatal dopamine release occuring in the setting of reduced D2/D3 receptor availability and raise the possibility that basal ganglia circuits associated with premotor cortices and those associated with primary motor cortex are differentially affected in primary focal dystonias.
PMCID: PMC3859223  PMID: 24148273
dystonia; dopamine; PET; raclopride; striatum
11.  Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Temporal Processing Deficits in Parkinson's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17461.
Parkinson's disease (PD) disrupts temporal processing, but the neuronal sources of deficits and their response to dopamine (DA) therapy are not understood. Though the striatum and DA transmission are thought to be essential for timekeeping, potential working memory (WM) and executive problems could also disrupt timing.
The present study addressed these issues by testing controls and PD volunteers ‘on’ and ‘off’ DA therapy as they underwent fMRI while performing a time-perception task. To distinguish systems associated with abnormalities in temporal and non-temporal processes, we separated brain activity during encoding and decision-making phases of a trial. Whereas both phases involved timekeeping, the encoding and decision phases emphasized WM and executive processes, respectively. The methods enabled exploration of both the amplitude and temporal dynamics of neural activity. First, we found that time-perception deficits were associated with striatal, cortical, and cerebellar dysfunction. Unlike studies of timed movement, our results could not be attributed to traditional roles of the striatum and cerebellum in movement. Second, for the first time we identified temporal and non-temporal sources of impaired time perception. Striatal dysfunction was found during both phases consistent with its role in timekeeping. Activation was also abnormal in a WM network (middle-frontal and parietal cortex, lateral cerebellum) during encoding and a network that modulates executive and memory functions (parahippocampus, posterior cingulate) during decision making. Third, hypoactivation typified neuronal dysfunction in PD, but was sometimes characterized by abnormal temporal dynamics (e.g., lagged, prolonged) that were not due to longer response times. Finally, DA therapy did not alleviate timing deficits.
Our findings indicate that impaired timing in PD arises from nigrostriatal and mesocortical dysfunction in systems that mediate temporal and non-temporal control-processes. However, time perception impairments were not improved by DA treatment, likely due to inadequate restoration of neuronal activity and perhaps corticostriatal effective-connectivity.
PMCID: PMC3045463  PMID: 21364772
12.  Speech-induced striatal dopamine release is left lateralized and coupled to functional striatal circuits in healthy humans: A combined PET, fMRI and DTI study 
NeuroImage  2012;70:21-32.
Considerable progress has been recently made in understanding the brain mechanisms underlying speech and language control. However, the neurochemical underpinnings of normal speech production remain largely unknown. We investigated the extent of striatal endogenous dopamine release and its influences on the organization of functional striatal speech networks during production of meaningful English sentences using a combination of positron emission tomography (PET) with the dopamine D2/D3 receptor radioligand [11C]raclopride and functional MRI (fMRI). In addition, we used diffusion tensor tractography (DTI) to examine the extent of dopaminergic modulatory influences on striatal structural network organization. We found that, during sentence production, endogenous dopamine was released in the ventromedial portion of the dorsal striatum, in its both associative and sensorimotor functional divisions. In the associative striatum, speech-induced dopamine release established a significant relationship with neural activity and influenced the left-hemispheric lateralization of striatal functional networks. In contrast, there were no significant effects of endogenous dopamine release on the lateralization of striatal structural networks. Our data provide the first evidence for endogenous dopamine release in the dorsal striatum during normal speaking and point to the possible mechanisms behind the modulatory influences of dopamine on the organization of functional brain circuits controlling normal human speech.
PMCID: PMC3580021  PMID: 23277111
dopamine; striatum; speech functional networks; structural networks
13.  Evidence of Dopaminergic Processing of Executive Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28075.
Inhibition of unwanted response is an important function of the executive system. Since the inhibitory system is impaired in patients with dysregulated dopamine system, we examined dopamine neurotransmission in the human brain during processing of a task of executive inhibition. The experiment used a recently developed dynamic molecular imaging technique to detect and map dopamine released during performance of a modified Eriksen's flanker task. In this study, young healthy volunteers received an intravenous injection of a dopamine receptor ligand (11C-raclopride) after they were positioned in the PET camera. After the injection, volunteers performed the flanker task under Congruent and Incongruent conditions in a single scan session. They were required to inhibit competing options to select an appropriate response in the Incongruent but not in the Congruent condition. The PET data were dynamically acquired during the experiment and analyzed using two variants of the simplified reference region model. The analysis included estimation of a number of receptor kinetic parameters before and after initiation of the Incongruent condition. We found increase in the rate of ligand displacement (from receptor sites) and decrease in the ligand binding potential in the Incongruent condition, suggesting dopamine release during task performance. These changes were observed in small areas of the putamen and caudate bilaterally but were most significant on the dorsal aspect of the body of left caudate. The results provide evidence of dopaminergic processing of executive inhibition and demonstrate that neurochemical changes associated with cognitive processing can be detected and mapped in a single scan session using dynamic molecular imaging.
PMCID: PMC3230601  PMID: 22162756
14.  Elimination of the Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter in the Striatum Reveals Regulation of Behaviour by Cholinergic-Glutamatergic Co-Transmission 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(11):e1001194.
A novel mouse model that eliminates cholinergic neurotransmission in the striatum while leaving glutamate release intact reveals differential effects on cocaine-induced behavior and dopaminergic responses.
Cholinergic neurons in the striatum are thought to play major regulatory functions in motor behaviour and reward. These neurons express two vesicular transporters that can load either acetylcholine or glutamate into synaptic vesicles. Consequently cholinergic neurons can release both neurotransmitters, making it difficult to discern their individual contributions for the regulation of striatal functions. Here we have dissected the specific roles of acetylcholine release for striatal-dependent behaviour in mice by selective elimination of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) from striatal cholinergic neurons. Analysis of several behavioural parameters indicates that elimination of VAChT had only marginal consequences in striatum-related tasks and did not affect spontaneous locomotion, cocaine-induced hyperactivity, or its reward properties. However, dopaminergic sensitivity of medium spiny neurons (MSN) and the behavioural outputs in response to direct dopaminergic agonists were enhanced, likely due to increased expression/function of dopamine receptors in the striatum. These observations indicate that previous functions attributed to striatal cholinergic neurons in spontaneous locomotor activity and in the rewarding responses to cocaine are mediated by glutamate and not by acetylcholine release. Our experiments demonstrate how one population of neurons can use two distinct neurotransmitters to differentially regulate a given circuitry. The data also raise the possibility of using VAChT as a target to boost dopaminergic function and decrease high striatal cholinergic activity, common neurochemical alterations in individuals affected with Parkinson's disease.
Author Summary
The neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine play opposite roles in the striatum (a brain region involved in motor control and reward-related behaviour), and their balance is thought to be critical for striatal function. Acetylcholine in the striatum has been linked to a number of functions, including control of locomotor activity and response to drugs of abuse. However, striatal cholinergic interneurons can also release glutamate (in addition to acetylcholine) and it is presently unclear how these two neurotransmitters regulate striatal-dependent behaviour. Previous work has attempted to resolve this issue by ablating cholinergic neurons in the striatum, but this causes loss of both cholinergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission. In this study, we created a novel genetic mouse model which allowed us to selectively interfere with secretion of acetylcholine in the striatum, while leaving total striatal glutamate release intact. In these mice, we observed minimally altered behavioural responses to cocaine, suggesting that striatal glutamate, rather than acetylcholine, is critical for cocaine-induced behavioural manifestations. Furthermore, elimination of striatal acetylcholine release affects how striatal output neurons respond to dopamine, by up-regulating dopaminergic receptors and changing behavioural responses to dopaminergic agonists. Our experiments highlight a previously unappreciated physiological role of cholinergic-glutamatergic co-transmission and demonstrate how a population of neurons can use two distinct neurotransmitters to differentially regulate behaviour.
PMCID: PMC3210783  PMID: 22087075
15.  In vivo imaging of dopaminergic neurotransmission after transient focal ischemia in rats 
The precise biologic mechanisms involved in functional recovery processes in response to stroke such as dopaminergic neurotransmission are still largely unknown. For this purpose, we performed in parallel in vivo magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography (PET) with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG) and [11C]raclopride at 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. In the ischemic territory, PET [18F]FDG showed a initial decrease in cerebral metabolism followed by a time-dependent recovery to quasi-normal values at day 14 after ischemia. The PET with [11C]raclopride, a ligand for dopamine D2 receptor, showed a sustained binding during the first week after ischemia that declined dramatically from day 14 to day 28. Interestingly, a slight increase in [11C]raclopride binding was observed at days 1 to 3 followed by the uppermost binding at day 7 in the contralateral territory. Likewise, in vitro autoradiography using [3H]raclopride confirmed these in vivo results. Finally, the neurologic test showed major neurologic impairment at day 1 followed by a recovery of the cerebral function at day 28 after cerebral ischemia. Taken together, these results might suggest that dopamine D2 receptor changes in the contralateral hemisphere could have a key role in functional recovery after cerebral ischemia.
PMCID: PMC3564194  PMID: 23149560
cerebral ischemia; MCAO; PET; stroke; [18F]FDG; [11C]raclopride; [3H]raclopride
16.  Imaging of dopamine D2/3 agonist binding in cocaine dependence: A [11C]NPA PET study 
Synapse (New York, N.Y.)  2011;65(12):1344-1349.
PET studies performed with [11C]raclopride have consistently reported lower binding to D2/3 receptors and lower amphetamine-induced dopamine release in cocaine abusers relative to healthy controls. A limitation of these studies that were performed with D2/3 antagonist radiotracers such as [11C]raclopride is the failure to provide information that is specific to D2/3 receptors configured in a state of high affinity for the agonists (i.e., D2/3 receptors coupled to G- proteins, D2/3 HIGH). As the endogenous agonist dopamine binds with preference to D2/3 HIGH relative to D2/3 LOW receptors (i.e., D2/3 receptors uncoupled to G-proteins) it is critical to understand the in vivo status of D2/3 HIGH receptors in cocaine dependence. Thus, we measured the available fraction of D2/3 HIGH receptors in 10 recently abstinent cocaine abusers (CD) and matched healthy controls (HC) with the D2/3 antagonist and agonist PET radiotracers [11C]raclopride and [11C]NPA
[11C]raclopride and [11C]NPA binding potential (BPND) in the striatum were measured with kinetic analysis using the arterial input function. The available fraction of D2/3 HIGH receptors, i.e., % RHIGH available=D2/3 HIGH/(D2/3 HIGH + D2/3 LOW) was then computed as the ratio of [11C]NPA BPND/[11C]raclopride BPND.
No differences in striatal [11C]NPA BPND (HC = 1.00 ± 0.17; CD = 0.97 ± 0.17, p =0.67) or available % RHIGH (HC= 39% ± 5%; CD = 41% ± 5%, p = 0.50) was observed between cocaine abusers and matched controls
The results of this [11C]NPA PET study do not support alterations in D2/3 HIGH binding in the striatum in cocaine dependence.
PMCID: PMC3419259  PMID: 21780185
[11C]N-propyl-norapomorphine (NPA); [11C]raclopride; cocaine dependence; Positron emission tomography (PET)
17.  Low dopamine striatal D2 receptors are associated with prefrontal metabolism in obese subjects: Possible contributing factors 
NeuroImage  2008;42(4):1537-1543.
Dopamine's role in inhibitory control is well recognized and its disruption may contribute to behavioral disorders of discontrol such as obesity. However, the mechanism by which impaired dopamine neurotransmission interferes with inhibitory control is poorly understood. We had previously documented a reduction in dopamine D2 receptors in morbidly obese subjects. To assess if the reductions in dopamine D2 receptors were associated with activity in prefrontal brain regions implicated in inhibitory control we assessed the relationship between dopamine D2 receptor availability in striatum with brain glucose metabolism (marker of brain function) in ten morbidly obese subjects (BMI>40 kg/m2) and compared it to that in twelve non-obese controls. PET was used with [11C]raclopride to assess D2 receptors and with [18F] FDG to assess regional brain glucose metabolism. In obese subjects striatal D2 receptor availability was lower than controls and was positively correlated with metabolism in dorsolateral prefrontal, medial orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate gyrus and somatosensory cortices. In controls correlations with prefrontal metabolism were not significant but comparisons with those in obese subjects were not significant, which does not permit to ascribe the associations as unique to obesity. The associations between striatal D2 receptors and prefrontal metabolism in obese subjects suggest that decreases in striatal D2 receptors could contribute to overeating via their modulation of striatal prefrontal pathways, which participate in inhibitory control and salience attribution. The association between striatal D2 receptors and metabolism in somatosensory cortices (regions that process palatability) could underlie one of the mechanisms through which dopamine regulates the reinforcing properties of food.
PMCID: PMC2659013  PMID: 18598772
Orbitofrontal cortex; Cingulate gyrus; Dorsolateral prefrontal; Dopamine transporters; Raclopride, PET
18.  Impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease: decreased striatal dopamine transporter levels 
Impulse control disorders are commonly associated with dopaminergic therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD). PD patients with impulse control disorders demonstrate enhanced dopamine release to conditioned cues and a gambling task on [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and enhanced ventral striatal activity to reward on functional MRI. We compared PD patients with impulse control disorders and age-matched and gender-matched controls without impulse control disorders using [123I]FP-CIT (2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)tropane) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), to assess striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density.
The [123I]FP-CIT binding data in the striatum were compared between 15 PD patients with and 15 without impulse control disorders using independent t tests.
Those with impulse control disorders showed significantly lower DAT binding in the right striatum with a trend in the left (right: F(1,24)=5.93, p=0.02; left: F(1,24)=3.75, p=0.07) compared to controls.
Our findings suggest that greater dopaminergic striatal activity in PD patients with impulse control disorders may be partly related to decreased uptake and clearance of dopamine from the synaptic cleft. Whether these findings are related to state or trait effects is not known. These findings dovetail with reports of lower DAT levels secondary to the effects of methamphetamine and alcohol. Although any regulation of DAT by antiparkinsonian medication appears to be modest, PD patients with impulse control disorders may be differentially sensitive to regulatory mechanisms of DAT expression by dopaminergic medications.
PMCID: PMC4031642  PMID: 23899625
19.  Abnormal Striatal Dopaminergic Neurotransmission during Rest and Task Production in Spasmodic Dysphonia 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(37):14705-14714.
Spasmodic dysphonia is a primary focal dystonia characterized by involuntary spasms in the laryngeal muscles during speech production. The pathophysiology of spasmodic dysphonia is thought to involve structural and functional abnormalities in the basal ganglia–thalamo-cortical circuitry; however, neurochemical correlates underpinning these abnormalities as well as their relations to spasmodic dysphonia symptoms remain unknown. We used positron emission tomography with the radioligand [11C]raclopride (RAC) to study striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission at the resting state and during production of symptomatic sentences and asymptomatic finger tapping in spasmodic dysphonia patients. We found that patients, compared to healthy controls, had bilaterally decreased RAC binding potential (BP) to striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptors on average by 29.2%, which was associated with decreased RAC displacement (RAC ΔBP) in the left striatum during symptomatic speaking (group average difference 10.2%), but increased RAC ΔBP in the bilateral striatum during asymptomatic tapping (group average difference 10.1%). Patients with more severe voice symptoms and subclinically longer reaction time to initiate the tapping sequence had greater RAC ΔBP measures, while longer duration of spasmodic dysphonia was associated with a decrease in task-induced RAC ΔBP. Decreased dopaminergic transmission during symptomatic speech production may represent a disorder-specific pathophysiological trait involved in symptom generation, whereas increased dopaminergic function during unaffected task performance may be explained by a compensatory adaptation of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system possibly due to decreased striatal D2/D3 receptor availability. These changes can be linked to the clinical and subclinical features of spasmodic dysphonia and may represent the neurochemical basis of basal ganglia alterations in this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3771037  PMID: 24027271
20.  Dopamine-transporter levels drive striatal responses to apomorphine in Parkinson's disease 
Brain and Behavior  2013;3(3):249-262.
Dopaminergic therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD) can improve some cognitive functions while worsening others. These opposite effects might reflect different levels of residual dopamine in distinct parts of the striatum, although the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to address how apomorphine, a potent dopamine agonist, influences brain activity associated with working memory in PD patients with variable levels of nigrostriatal degeneration, as assessed via dopamine-transporter (DAT) scan. Twelve PD patients underwent two fMRI sessions (Off-, On-apomorphine) and one DAT-scan session. Twelve sex-, age-, and education-matched healthy controls underwent one fMRI session. The core fMRI analyses explored: (1) the main effect of group; (2) the main effect of treatment; and (3) linear and nonlinear interactions between treatment and DAT levels. Relative to controls, PD-Off patients showed greater activations within posterior attentional regions (e.g., precuneus). PD-On versus PD-Off patients displayed reduced left superior frontal gyrus activation and enhanced striatal activation during working-memory task. The relation between DAT levels and striatal responses to apomorphine followed an inverted-U-shaped model (i.e., the apomorphine effect on striatal activity in PD patients with intermediate DAT levels was opposite to that observed in PD patients with higher and lower DAT levels). Previous research in PD demonstrated that the nigrostriatal degeneration (tracked via DAT scan) is associated with inverted-U-shaped rearrangements of postsynaptic D2-receptors sensitivity. Hence, it can be hypothesized that individual differences in DAT levels drove striatal responses to apomorphine via D2-receptor-mediated mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3683285  PMID: 23785657
Cognition; DAT; dopamine-agonist; fMRI; Parkinson's disease; working memory
21.  Relationship of striatal dopamine synthesis capacity to age and cognition 
Past research has demonstrated that performance on frontal lobe-dependent tasks is associated with dopamine system integrity, and that various dopamine system deficits occur with aging. The positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer 6-[18F]-fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT) is a substrate of the dopamine-synthesizing enzyme, aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). Studies using 6-[18F]fluorodopa (FDOPA) (another AADC substrate) to measure how striatal PET signal and age relate have had inconsistent outcomes. The varying results occur in part from tracer processing that renders FDOPA signal subject to aspects of post-release metabolism, which may themselves change with aging. In contrast, FMT remains a purer measure of AADC function. We used partial volume corrected FMT PET scans to measure age-related striatal dopamine synthesis capacity in 21 older (mean 66.9) and 16 younger (mean 22.8) healthy adults. We also investigated how striatal FMT signal related to a cognitive measure of frontal lobe function. Older adults showed significantly greater striatal FMT signal than younger adults. Within the older group, FMT signal in dorsal caudate (DCA) and dorsal putamen (DPUT) was greater with age, suggesting compensation for deficits elsewhere in the dopamine system. In younger adults, FMT signal in DCA was lower with age, likely related to ongoing developmental processes. Younger adults who performed worse on tests of frontal lobe function showed greater FMT signal in right DCA, independent of age effects. Our data suggest that higher striatal FMT signal represents non-optimal dopamine processing. They further support a relationship between striatal dopamine processing and frontal lobe cognitive function.
PMCID: PMC2880923  PMID: 19109513
FMT; PET; normal aging; striatum; cognition; aromatic amino acid decarboxylase; dopa decarboxylase; caudate; putamen; basal ganglia; prefrontal; upregulation
22.  Differential Contributions of Dopaminergic D1-like and D2-like Receptors to Cognitive Function in Rhesus Monkeys 
Psychopharmacology  2006;188(4):586-596.
Dopaminergic neurotransmission is critically involved in many aspects of complex behavior and cognition beyond reward/reinforcement and motor function. Mental and behavioral disorders associated with major disruptions of dopamine neurotransmission, including schizophrenia, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease and substance abuse, produce constellations of neuropsychological deficits in learning, memory and attention in addition to other defining symptoms.
To delineate the role dopaminergic D1-like and D2-like receptor subtypes play in complex brain functions.
Monkeys (N=6) were trained on cognitive tests adapted from a human neuropsychological assessment battery (CANTAB; CAmbridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery). The battery included tests of spatial working memory (self-ordered spatial search task, SOSS), visuo-spatial associative memory and learning (visuo-spatial paired associates learning task, vsPAL) and motivation (progressive ratio task, PR). Tests of motor function (bimanual motor skill task, BMS; rotating turntable task, RTT) were also included. Effects of the dopamine D2-like antagonist raclopride (10-56 μg/kg, i.m.) and the D1-like antagonist SCH23390 (SCH; 3.2-56 μg/kg, i.m.) on cognitive performance were then determined.
Deficits on PR, RTT and BMS performance were observed after both raclopride and SCH23390. Spatial working memory accuracy was reduced to a greater extent by raclopride than by SCH which was unexpected, given prior reports on the involvement of D1 signaling for spatial working memory in monkeys. Deficits were observed on vsPAL performance after raclopride, but not after SCH23390.
The intriguing results suggest a greater contribution of D2-like over D1-like receptors to both spatial working memory and object-location associative memory.
PMCID: PMC2099258  PMID: 16538469
Alzheimer’s Disease; Parkinson’s Disease; Substance Abuse; Working Memory; ADHD; Motor Function; Aging
23.  Acute effect of the anti-addiction drug bupropion on extracellular dopamine concentrations in the human striatum: An [11C]raclopride PET study 
NeuroImage  2009;50(1):260-266.
Bupropion is an effective medication in treating addiction and is widely used as an aid to smoking cessation. Bupropion inhibits striatal dopamine reuptake via dopamine transporter blockade, but it is unknown whether this leads to increased extracellular dopamine levels at clinical doses in man. The effects of bupropion on extracellular dopamine levels in the striatum were investigated using [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in rats administered saline, 11 or 25mg/kg bupropion i.p. and in healthy human volunteers administered either placebo or 150mg bupropion (Zyban® Sustained-Release). A cognitive task was used to stimulate dopamine release in the human study. In rats, bupropion significantly decreased [11C]raclopride specific binding in the striatum, consistent with increases in extracellular dopamine concentrations. In man, no significant decreases in striatal [11C]raclopride specific binding were observed. Levels of dopamine transporter occupancy in the rat at 11 and 25mg/kg bupropion i.p. were higher than predicted to occur in man at the dose used. Thus, these data indicate that, at the low levels of dopamine transporter occupancy achieved in man at clinical doses, bupropion does not increase extracellular dopamine levels. These findings have important implications for understanding the mechanism of action underlying bupropions’ therapeutic efficacy and for the development of novel treatments for addiction and depression.
PMCID: PMC4135078  PMID: 19969097
bupropion; dopamine; imaging positron emission tomography; [11C]raclopride; striatum; addiction, depression, mechanism, smoking, rat, human
24.  Serotonergic mechanisms responsible for levodopa-induced dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease patients 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1340-1349.
Levodopa-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) are the most common and disabling adverse motor effect of therapy in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. In this study, we investigated serotonergic mechanisms in LIDs development in PD patients using 11C-DASB PET to evaluate serotonin terminal function and 11C-raclopride PET to evaluate dopamine release. PD patients with LIDs showed relative preservation of serotonergic terminals throughout their disease. Identical levodopa doses induced markedly higher striatal synaptic dopamine concentrations in PD patients with LIDs compared with PD patients with stable responses to levodopa. Oral administration of the serotonin receptor type 1A agonist buspirone prior to levodopa reduced levodopa-evoked striatal synaptic dopamine increases and attenuated LIDs. PD patients with LIDs that exhibited greater decreases in synaptic dopamine after buspirone pretreatment had higher levels of serotonergic terminal functional integrity. Buspirone-associated modulation of dopamine levels was greater in PD patients with mild LIDs compared with those with more severe LIDs. These findings indicate that striatal serotonergic terminals contribute to LIDs pathophysiology via aberrant processing of exogenous levodopa and release of dopamine as false neurotransmitter in the denervated striatum of PD patients with LIDs. Our results also support the development of selective serotonin receptor type 1A agonists for use as antidyskinetic agents in PD.
PMCID: PMC3934188  PMID: 24531549
25.  Olfactory impairment in the rotenone model of Parkinson’s disease is associated with bulbar dopaminergic D2 activity after REM sleep deprivation 
Olfactory and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep deficits are commonly found in untreated subjects with a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Additionally, different studies report declines in olfactory performance during a short period of sleep deprivation. Mechanisms underlying these clinical manifestations are poorly understood, and impairment of dopamine (DA) neurotransmission in the olfactory bulb and the nigrostriatal pathway may have important roles in olfaction and REM sleep disturbances. Therefore, we hypothesized that modulation of the dopaminergic D2 receptors in the olfactory bulb could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the olfactory deficits in PD and REM sleep deprivation (REMSD). We decided to investigate the olfactory, neurochemical, and histological alterations generated through the administration of piribedil (a selective D2 agonist) or raclopride (a selective D2 antagonist) within the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb, in rats subjected to intranigral rotenone and REMSD. Our findings provide evidence of the occurrence of a negative correlation (r = −0.52, P = 0.04) between the number of periglomerular TH-ir neurons and the bulbar levels of DA in the rotenone, but not sham, groups. A significant positive correlation (r = 0.34, P = 0.03) was observed between nigrostriatal DA levels and olfactory discrimination index (DI) for the sham groups, indicating that increased DA levels in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) are associated with enhanced olfactory discrimination performance. Also, increased levels in bulbar and striatal DA were induced by piribedil in the rotenone control and rotenone REMSD groups, consistent with reductions in the DI. The present evidence reinforce the idea that DA produced by periglomerular neurons, particularly the bulbar dopaminergic D2 receptors, is an essential participant in olfactory discrimination processes, as the SNpc, and the striatum.
PMCID: PMC4249459  PMID: 25520618
olfactory bulb; olfactory discrimination; dopamine; bulbar dopaminergic D2 receptors; REM sleep deprivation; intranigral; Parkinson’s disease

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