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Nature communications
Feb 12, 2020 11 (1) 846
Vol. 11, Issue 1, Medline Page 846

Maturation of the human striatal dopamine system revealed by PET and quantitative MRI.

Authors: Larsen B, Olafsson V, Calabro F, Laymon C, Tervo-Clemmens B, Campbell E, Minhas D, Montez D, Price J, Luna B
The development of the striatum dopamine (DA) system through human adolescence, a time of increased sensation seeking and vulnerability to the emergence of psychopathology, has been difficult to study due to pediatric restrictions on direct in vivo assessments of DA. Here, we applied neuroimaging in a longitudinal sample of n = 146 participants aged 12-30. R2', an MR measure of tissue iron which co-localizes with DA vesicles and is necessary for DA synthesis, was assessed across the sample. In the 18-30 year-olds (n = 79) we also performed PET using [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ), a measure of presynaptic vesicular DA storage, and [11C]raclopride (RAC), an indicator of D2/D3 receptor availability. We observed decreases in D2/D3 receptor availability with age, while presynaptic vesicular DA storage (as measured by DTBZ), which was significantly associated with R2' (standardized coefficient = 0.29, 95% CI = [0.11, 0.48]), was developmentally stable by age 18. Our results provide new evidence for maturational specialization of the striatal DA system through adolescence.