D2/D3 dopamine receptor binding with [F-18]fallypride correlates of executive function in medication-näive patients with schizophrenia


Converging evidence indicates that the prefrontal cortex is critically involved in executive control and that executive dysfunction is implicated in schizophrenia. Reduced dopamine D2/D3 receptor binding potential has been reported in schizophrenia, and the correlations with neuropsychological test scores have been positive and negative for different tasks. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between dopamine D2/D3 receptor levels with frontal and temporal neurocognitive performance in schizophrenia. Resting-state 18F-fallypride positron emission tomography was performed on 20 medication-näive and 5 previously medicated for brief earlier periods patients with schizophrenia and 19 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Striatal and extra-striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor levels were quantified as binding potential using fallypride imaging. Magnetic resonance images in standard Talairach position and segmented into gray and white matter were co-registered to the fallypride images, and the AFNI stereotaxic atlas was applied. Two neuropsychological tasks known to activate frontal and temporal lobe function were chosen, specifically the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT). Images of the correlation coefficient between fallypride binding and WCST and CVLT performance showed a negative correlation in contrast to positive correlations in healthy volunteers. The results of this study demonstrate that lower fallypride binding potential in patients with schizophrenia may be associated with better performance. Our findings are consistent with previous studies that failed to find cognitive improvements with typical dopamine-blocking medications.

Schizophrenia Research