Deficits in central, subcortical dopamine (DA) signaling may underlie negative symptom severity, particularly anhedonia, in healthy individuals and in schizophrenia. To investigate these relationships, we assessed negative symptoms with the Schedule for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms and the Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS) and self-reported anhedonia with the Scales for Physical and Social Anhedonia (SPSA), Temporal Experience of Pleasure Scale, and Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale in 36 healthy controls (HC), 27 siblings (SIB) of individuals with schizophrenia, and 66 individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (SCZ). A subset of participants (N = 124) were genotyped for DA-related polymorphisms in genes for DRD4, DRD2/ANKK1, DAT1, and COMT, which were used to construct biologically-informed multi-locus genetic profile (MGP) scores reflective of subcortical dopaminergic signaling. DA receptor type 2 (D2R) binding was assessed among a second subset of participants (N = 23) using PET scans with the D2R-selective, non-displaceable radioligand (N-[11C]methyl)benperidol. Higher MGP scores, reflecting elevated subcortical dopaminergic signaling capacity, were associated with less negative symptom severity, as measured by the BNSS, across all participants. In addition, higher striatal D2R binding was associated with less physical and social anhedonia, as measured by the SPSA, across HC, SIB, and SCZ. The current preliminary findings support the hypothesis that subcortical DA function may contribute to negative symptom severity and self-reported anhedonia, independent of diagnostic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Anhedonia
  • Dopamine
  • Genetic profile
  • Negative symptoms
  • PET
  • Schizophrenia


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