Papenberg, Jonasson, Karalija, Johansson, Köhncke, Salami, Andersson, Axelsson, Wåhlin, Riklund, Lindenberger, Lövdén, Nyberg, Bäckman (2019) Mapping the landscape of human dopamine D2/3 receptors with [11C]raclopride Brain structure & function 224(8) 2871-2882


The dopamine D2/3 system is fundamental for sensory, motor, emotional, and cognitive aspects of behavior. Small-scale human histopathological and animal studies show high density of D2/3 dopamine receptors (D2/3DR) in striatum, but also demonstrate the existence of such receptors across cortical and limbic regions. Assessment of D2/3DR BPND in the extrastriatal regions with [11C]raclopride has long been considered unreliable due to the relatively low density of D2/3DR outside the striatum. We describe the distribution and interregional links of D2/3DR availability measured with PET and [11C]raclopride across the human brain in a large sample (N = 176; age range 64-68 years). Structural equation modeling revealed that D2/3DR availability can be organized according to anatomical (nigrostriatal, mesolimbic, mesocortical) and functional (limbic, associative, sensorimotor) dopamine pathways. D2/3DR availability in corticolimbic functional subdivisions showed differential associations to corresponding striatal subdivisions, extending animal and pharmacological work. Our findings provide evidence on the dimensionality and organization of [11C]raclopride D2/3DR availability in the living human brain that conforms to known dopaminergic pathways.