Scientific article
Open access

Dopamine and Neuroinflammation in Schizophrenia – Interpreting the Findings from Translocator Protein (18kDa) PET Imaging

Published inNeuropsychiatric disease and treatment, vol. 17, p. 3345-3357
Publication date2021-11
First online date2021-11

Schizophrenia is a complex disease whose pathophysiology is not yet fully understood. In addition to the long prevailing dopaminergic hypothesis, the evidence sug- gests that neuroinflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of the disease. Recent studies using positron emission tomography (PET) that target a 18kDa translocator protein (TSPO) in activated microglial cells in an attempt to measure neuroinflammation in patients have shown a decrease or a lack of an increase in TSPO binding. Many biological and methodological considerations have been formulated to explain these findings. Although dopamine has been described as an immunomodulatory molecule, its potential role in neuroinflammation has not been explored in the aforementioned studies. In this review, we discuss the interactions between dopamine and neuroinflammation in psychotic states. Dopamine may inhibit neuroinflammation in activated microglia. Proinflammatory molecules released from microglia may decrease dopaminergic transmission. This could potentially explain why the levels of neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with schizophrenia seem to be unchanged or decreased compared to those in healthy subjects. However, most data are indirect and are derived from animal studies or from studies performed outside the field of schizophrenia. Further studies are needed to combine TSPO and dopamine imaging to study the association between microglial activation and dopamine system function.

  • Microglia
  • Inflammation
  • Biomarker
  • Neuroimaging
  • PET
  • Translocator protein
Citation (ISO format)
ILIOPOULOU, Sotiria Maria et al. Dopamine and Neuroinflammation in Schizophrenia – Interpreting the Findings from Translocator Protein (18kDa) PET Imaging. In: Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 2021, vol. 17, p. 3345–3357. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S334027
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1176-6328

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