Reduced dopamine D4 receptor mRNA expression in lymphocytes of long-term abstinent alcohol and heroin addicts

Aim: It has been repeatedly suggested that dopamine receptor expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes reflects, to some extent, brain status. The aim of the present study was to investigate dopamine receptor expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes of long-term abstinent alcohol and heroin addicts against the background of the hypothesis, that a persisting dysfunction of the dopaminergic system contributes a biological cause to the chronic character of addiction.

Dopamine receptor D3 mRNA expression in human lymphocytes is negatively correlated with the personality trait of persistence

It has been proposed that neurotransmitter receptor expression in peripheral immune cells reflects expression of these receptors in the brain. To test this "peripheral marker hypothesis", we compared mRNA expression of the dopamine receptors D3 (DRD3) and D4 (DRD4) in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) to personality traits assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) in 50 healthy and unmedicated Caucasian individuals. A shared variance of at least 17% (p=0.016) between DRD3 mRNA expression in PBL and the personality trait of persistence was found.