Cerebral blood flow predicts differential neurotransmitter activity

Juergen Dukart*, Štefan Holiga, Christopher Chatham, Peter Hawkins, Anna Forsyth, Rebecca McMillan, Jim Myers, Anne R Lingford-Hughes, David J Nutt, Emilio Merlo-Pich, Celine Risterucci, Lauren Boak, Daniel Umbricht, Scott Schobel, Thomas Liu, Mitul A Mehta, Fernando O Zelaya, Steve C Williams, Gregory Brown, Martin PaulusGarry D Honey, Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, Joerg Hipp, Alessandro Bertolino, Fabio Sambataro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
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Application of metabolic magnetic resonance imaging measures such as cerebral blood flow in translational medicine is limited by the unknown link of observed alterations to specific neurophysiological processes. In particular, the sensitivity of cerebral blood flow to activity changes in specific neurotransmitter systems remains unclear. We address this question by probing cerebral blood flow in healthy volunteers using seven established drugs with known dopaminergic, serotonergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic mechanisms of action. We use a novel framework aimed at disentangling the observed effects to contribution from underlying neurotransmitter systems. We find for all evaluated compounds a reliable spatial link of respective cerebral blood flow changes with underlying neurotransmitter receptor densities corresponding to their primary mechanisms of action. The strength of these associations with receptor density is mediated by respective drug affinities. These findings suggest that cerebral blood flow is a sensitive brain-wide in-vivo assay of metabolic demands across a variety of neurotransmitter systems in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4074
Pages (from-to)4074
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018


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