The present study was undertaken to further explore the potential neuropsychological information associated with baseline plasma levels of catecholamines and dopamine D3 receptor (DRD3) mRNA expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). Baseline plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine levels and PBL DRD3 mRNA expression were compared with performance in the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) in n=79 healthy volunteers (mean+/-S.D. age: 24.1+/-3.2 years, 34 males).
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.
The mesolimbic dopaminergic system is known to mediate rewarding effects of nicotine administration, and dysfunctions of this system may underlie failure to stop cigarette smoking. Expression of dopamine receptors in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) has been indicated as a peripheral correlate of brain status. Dopamine receptor D(3) (DRD3) and D(4) (DRD4) mRNA expression in PBLs was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction in smokers (n=26) and former smokers (n=14), compared with nonsmoking control subjects (n=35).
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.