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Increased Striatal Dopamine Synthesis Capacity in Gambling Addiction

  • Author Footnotes
    1 RJvH and GS contributed equally to this work.
    Ruth J. van Holst
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Ruth J. van Holst, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center–University of Amsterdam, Room PA3-226, P.O. Box 22660, 1100 DD Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
    Footnotes
    1 RJvH and GS contributed equally to this work.
    Affiliations
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center–University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 RJvH and GS contributed equally to this work.
    Guillaume Sescousse
    Footnotes
    1 RJvH and GS contributed equally to this work.
    Affiliations
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Lieneke K. Janssen
    Affiliations
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Marcel Janssen
    Affiliations
    Department of Nuclear Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Anne S. Berry
    Affiliations
    Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
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  • William J. Jagust
    Affiliations
    Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
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  • Roshan Cools
    Affiliations
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    Department of Psychiatry, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 RJvH and GS contributed equally to this work.

      Abstract

      Background

      The hypothesis that dopamine plays an important role in the pathophysiology of pathological gambling is pervasive. However, there is little to no direct evidence for a categorical difference between pathological gamblers and healthy control subjects in terms of dopamine transmission in a drug-free state. Here we provide evidence for this hypothesis by comparing dopamine synthesis capacity in the dorsal and ventral parts of the striatum in 13 pathological gamblers and 15 healthy control subjects.

      Methods

      This was achieved using [18F]fluoro-levo-dihydroxyphenylalanine dynamic positron emission tomography scans and striatal regions of interest that were hand-drawn based on visual inspection of individual structural magnetic resonance imaging scans.

      Results

      Our results show that dopamine synthesis capacity was increased in pathological gamblers compared with healthy control subjects. Dopamine synthesis was 16% higher in the caudate body, 17% higher in the dorsal putamen, and 17% higher in the ventral striatum in pathological gamblers compared with control subjects. Moreover, dopamine synthesis capacity in the dorsal putamen and caudate head was positively correlated with gambling distortions in pathological gamblers.

      Conclusions

      Taken together, these results provide empirical evidence for increased striatal dopamine synthesis in pathological gambling.

      Keywords

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      Linked Article

      • Searching for Replicable Dopamine-Related Findings in Gambling Disorder
        Biological PsychiatryVol. 83Issue 12
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          van Holst et al. (1) used [18F]flouro-levo-diphenylalanine ([18F]DOPA) positron emission tomography (PET) to study individuals with and without pathological gambling (PG). They report that the PG group, as compared with the healthy control (HC) group, demonstrated higher dopamine synthesis capacity in three striatal regions (the caudate body, dorsal putamen, and ventral striatum) and that dopamine synthesis capacity in two striatal regions (the caudate head and dorsal putamen) correlated with gambling-related distortions in the PG group.
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