Values of binding potentials (BPND) of dopamine D2/3 receptors differ in different regions of the brain, but we do not know with certainty how much of this difference is due either to different receptor numbers, or to different affinities of tracers to the receptors, or to both. We tested the claim that both striatal and extrastriatal dopamine D2/3 receptor availabilities vary with age in vivo in humans by determining the values of BPND of the specific radioligand [11C]raclopride. We determined values of BPND in striatal and extrastriatal volumes-of-interest (VOI) with the same specific receptor radioligand. We estimated values of BPND in individual voxels of brains of healthy volunteers in vivo, and we obtained regional averages of VOI by dynamic positron emission tomography (PET). We calculated average values of BPND in caudate nucleus and putamen of striatum, and in frontal, occipital, parietal, and temporal cortices of the forebrain, by means of four methods, including the ERLiBiRD (Estimation of Reversible Ligand Binding and Receptor Density) method, the tissue reference methods of Logan and Logan-Ichise, respectively, and the SRTM (Simplified Reference Tissue Method). Voxelwise generation of parametric maps of values of BPND used the multi-linear regression version of SRTM. Age-dependent changes of the binding potential presented with an inverted U-shape with peak binding potentials reached between the ages of 20 and 30. The estimates of BPND declined significantly with age after the peak in both striatal and extrastriatal regions, as determined by all four methods, with the greatest decline observed in posterior (occipital and parietal) cortices (14% per decade) and the lowest decline in caudate nucleus (3% per decade). The sites of the greatest declines are of particular interest because of the clinical implications.
- Aging brain
- Dopamine receptor density
- Dopaminergic neurotransmission
- Non-linear inverted-U regression
- Positron emission tomography