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What is dopamine? 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is important for emotional and cognitive processing in the brain, particularly rewarding and pleasurable stimuli or experiences. Alterations of the dopamine system have been suggested in schizophrenia. This may be assessed as changes in levels of dopamine or its metabolites, or as changes in levels or activity of the mechanical components of the dopamine system, such as the receptors that receive dopamine, or the transporters that remove it.

What is the evidence for dopamine?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests a large effect of increased striatal presynaptic dopamine function, and a small effect of increased striatal dopamine receptor availability in people with schizophrenia compared to controls, particularly in associative and sensorimotor regions. There are no differences in striatal dopamine transporter levels.

Moderate quality evidence suggests no differences in D2/D3 receptor availability in the thalamus or the temporal cortex of unmedicated people with schizophrenia compared to controls, although after excluding two studies results showed reduced availability in the thalamus. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests no differences in D2/D3 binding potential in the substantia nigra.

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests an association between dopamine receptor occupancy and clinical improvement following treatment with antipsychotic medications. Greatest D2 receptor occupancy occurs with haloperidol (91.9%), then risperidone, olanzapine, clozapine, quetiapine, aripiprazole, ziprasidone, and then amisulpride (85%).

December 2019

Last updated at: 12:30 am, 4th December 2019
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.