Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents
Molecular imaging of the dopaminergic system in schizophrenia
Anissa Abi-Dargham, MD
Professor, Vice Chair of Research of PsychiatryStony Brook University
Host: Carolyn Rodriguez
This talk will summarize past research as well as current new directions in using molecular imaging, combined with functional imaging, to uncover aspects of the neurobiology of schizophrenia, as well as its functional and clinical associated impacts. I will first describe the starting point, grounded in the clinical phenomenology of the disease, with the observed exacerbations in psychosis due to dopaminergic agonists and the therapeutic effect of D2 antagonism. Our initial studies provided evidence for striatal dopamine excess, mostly in the associative striatum, and for extrastriatal dopamine deficit. This deficit encompasses the midbrain, where dopamine cell bodies originate, and suggested to us that local mechanisms within the striatum may relate to the locally restricted excess within the striatum. Based on this observation, and since the cholinergic system is a modulator of dopamine in the striatum, we have now implemented use of a tracer for the vesicular cholinergic transporter. We have begun to examine the integrity of the cholinergic system throughout the brain and in the striatum, and examine its relationship to the altered dopaminergic parameters in schizophrenia. These findings and their functional correlates will be discussed within a model of abnormal development of these neural systems leading to the full syndrome observed in adulthood.