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1.  Striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor binding in pathological gambling is correlated with mood-related impulsivity 
Neuroimage  2012;63(1):40-46.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a behavioural addiction associated with elevated impulsivity and suspected dopamine dysregulation. Reduced striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability has been reported in drug addiction, and may constitute a premorbid vulnerability marker for addictive disorders. The aim of the present study was to assess striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in PG, and its association with trait impulsivity. Males with PG (n = 9) and male healthy controls (n = 9) underwent [11C]-raclopride positron emission tomography imaging and completed the UPPS-P impulsivity scale. There was no significant difference between groups in striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability, in contrast to previous reports in drug addiction. However, mood-related impulsivity (‘Urgency’) was negatively correlated with [11C]-raclopride binding potentials in the PG group. The absence of a group difference in striatal dopamine binding implies a distinction between behavioural addictions and drug addictions. Nevertheless, our data indicate heterogeneity in dopamine receptor availability in disordered gambling, such that individuals with high mood-related impulsivity may show differential benefits from dopamine-based medications.
► Assessed 11C-raclopride binding in pathological gambling, a putative behavioral addiction. ► No group difference in striatal dopamine binding from healthy controls. ► Dopamine binding negatively correlated with mood-related impulsivity (‘Urgency’).
PMCID: PMC3438449  PMID: 22776462
Gambling; Impulsivity; Dopamine; Neuroimaging; Addiction; Striatum
2.  Characterisation of the contribution of the GABA-benzodiazepine α1 receptor subtype to [11C]Ro15-4513 PET images 
This positron emission tomography (PET) study aimed to further define selectivity of [11C]Ro15-4513 binding to the GABARα5 relative to the GABARα1 benzodiazepine receptor subtype. The impact of zolpidem, a GABARα1-selective agonist, on [11C]Ro15-4513, which shows selectivity for GABARα5, and the nonselective benzodiazepine ligand [11C]flumazenil binding was assessed in humans. Compartmental modelling of the kinetics of [11C]Ro15-4513 time-activity curves was used to describe distribution volume (VT) differences in regions populated by different GABA receptor subtypes. Those with low α5 were best fitted by one-tissue compartment models; and those with high α5 required a more complex model. The heterogeneity between brain regions suggested spectral analysis as a more appropriate method to quantify binding as it does not a priori specify compartments. Spectral analysis revealed that zolpidem caused a significant VT decrease (∼10%) in [11C]flumazenil, but no decrease in [11C]Ro15-4513 binding. Further analysis of [11C]Ro15-4513 kinetics revealed additional frequency components present in regions containing both α1 and α5 subtypes compared with those containing only α1. Zolpidem reduced one component (mean±s.d.: 71%±41%), presumed to reflect α1-subtype binding, but not another (13%±22%), presumed to reflect α5. The proposed method for [11C]Ro15-4513 analysis may allow more accurate selective binding assays and estimation of drug occupancy for other nonselective ligands.
PMCID: PMC3318150  PMID: 22214903
GABA; imaging; kinetic modelling; pharmacokinetics; positron emission tomography
3.  Investigating expectation and reward in human opioid addiction with [11C]raclopride PET 
Addiction Biology  2013;19(6):1032-1040.
The rewarding properties of some abused drugs are thought to reside in their ability to increase striatal dopamine levels. Similar increases have been shown in response to expectation of a positive drug effect. The actions of opioid drugs on striatal dopamine release are less well characterized. We examined whether heroin and the expectation of heroin reward increases striatal dopamine levels in human opioid addiction. Ten opioid-dependent participants maintained on either methadone or buprenorphine underwent [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography imaging. Opioid-dependent participants were scanned three times, receiving reward from 50-mg intravenous heroin (diamorphine; pharmaceutical heroin) during the first scan to generate expectation of the same reward at the second scan, during which they only received 0.1-mg intravenous heroin. There was no heroin injection during the third scan. Intravenous 50-mg heroin during the first scan induced pronounced effects leading to high levels of expectation at the second scan. There was no detectable increase in striatal dopamine levels to either heroin reward or expectation of reward. We believe this is the first human study to examine whether expectation of heroin reward increases striatal dopamine levels in opioid addiction. The absence of detectable increased dopamine levels to both the expectation and delivery of a heroin-related reward may have been due to the impact of substitute medication. It does however contrast with the changes seen in abstinent stimulant users, suggesting that striatal dopamine release alone may not play such a pivotal role in opioid-maintained individuals.
PMCID: PMC4282066  PMID: 23829344
Addiction; dopamine; expectation; heroin; opioid; PET

Results 1-3 (3)