The relationship between dopamine receptor blockade and cognitive performance in schizophrenia: A [11C]-raclopride PET study with aripiprazole

Sangho Shin, Seoyoung Kim, Seongho Seo, Jae Sung Lee, Oliver D. Howes, Euitae Kim, Jun Soo Kwon

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Aripiprazole's effects on cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia are unclear because of the difficulty in disentangling specific effects on cognitive function from secondary effects due to the improvement in other schizophrenic symptoms. One approach to address this is to use an intermediate biomarker to investigate the relationship between the drug's effect on the brain and change in cognitive function. This study aims to investigate aripiprazole's effect on working memory by determining the correlation between dopamine D2/3 (D2/3) receptor occupancy and working memory of patients with schizophrenia. Seven patients with schizophrenia participated in the study. Serial positron emission tomography (PET) scans with [11C]raclopride were conducted at 2, 26, and 74 h after the administration of aripiprazole. The subjects performed the N-back task just after finishing the [11C]raclopride PET scan. The mean (±SD) D2/3 receptor occupancies were 66.9 ± 6.7% at 2 h, 65.0 ± 8.6% at 26, and 57.7 ± 11.2% at 74 h after administering aripiprazole. Compared with performance on the zero-back condition, performance in memory-loaded conditions (one-, two-, and three-back conditions) was significantly related to D2/3 receptor occupancy by aripiprazole (error rate: ß = -2.236, t = -6.631, df = 53.947, and p = 0.001; reaction time: ß = -9.567, t = -2.808, df = 29.967, and p = 0.009). Although the sample size was relatively small, these results suggest that aripiprazole as a dopamine-partial agonist could improve cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

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