Presynaptic Striatal Dopamine Dysfunction in People at Ultra-high Risk for Psychosis: Findings in a Second Cohort

Alice Egerton, Christopher A. Chaddock, Toby T. Winton-Brown, Michael A.P. Bloomfield, Sagnik Bhattacharyya, Paul Allen, Philip McGuire, Oliver Howes

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Background: Using positron emission tomography (PET), we previously observed increases in 3,4-dihydroxy-6-[F-18]fluoro-L-phenylalanine (F-18-DOPA) uptake in the striatum of subjects at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis, indicating elevated presynaptic dopamine synthesis capacity. The purpose of this study was to test if this finding would be replicated in a second UHR cohort.Methods: F-18-DOPA PET was used to estimate dopamine synthesis capacity in the striatum of an entirely new cohort of 26 individuals at UHR for psychosis (14 males, mean +/- SD age = 22.7 +/- 4.7 years) and 20 healthy volunteers matched for age and gender (11 males, mean +/- SD age = 24.5 +/- 4.5 years).Results: Dopamine synthesis capacity was elevated in the whole [t(44) = 2.6; p = .01, effect size = .81] and associative striatum [t(44) = 2.6; p = .01, effect size = .73] of UHR compared with control subjects. When the two samples were combined to give a final sample of 32 control and 50 UHR subjects, the higher levels of dopamine synthesis capacity in the UHR group reached significance across the whole [F(1,81) = 11.0; p = .001], associative [F(1,81) = 12.7; p = .001], and sensorimotor [F(1,81) = 4.7; p = .03], but not the limbic [F(1,81) = 2.1; p = .2], striatum.Conclusions: The findings indicate that elevated dopamine synthesis capacity in the dorsal striatum is a robust feature of individuals at UHR for psychosis and provide further evidence that dopaminergic abnormalities precede the onset of psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-112
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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