Lewis DA, Melchitzky DS, Sesack SR, Whitehead RE, Auh S, Sampson A. Dopamine transporter immunoreactivity in monkey cerebral cortex: regional, laminar, and ultrastructural localization. J Comp Neurol 432: 119-136
Dopamine (DA) influences a number of cognitive and motor functions that are mediated by the primate cerebral cortex, and the DA membrane transporter (DAT) is known to be a critical regulator of DA neurotransmission in subcortical structures in rodents. To gain insight into the possible functional role of cortical DAT, we compared the regional, laminar, and ultrastructural distribution of DAT immunoreactivity to that of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in DA synthesis, in the cerebral cortex of macaque monkeys. DAT-immunoreactive (DAT-IR) axons were present throughout the cortical mantle, with substantial differences in density and laminar distribution across cytoarchitectonic areas. In particular, high densities of DAT-IR axons were present in certain regions (e.g., posterior parietal cortex, dentate gyrus) not previously thought to receive a substantial DA input. The laminar distribution of DAT-IR axons ranged from a restricted localization of labeled axons to layer 1 in lightly innervated regions to the presence of axons in all six cortical layers, with a particularly dense plexus in deep layer 3, in highly innervated regions. These regional and laminar patterns paralleled those of TH-IR axons, but several differences in fiber morphology and ultrastructural localization of DAT were observed. For example, in contrast to TH, DAT immunoreactivity in the cortex was localized predominantly to small-diameter profiles, whereas, in the dorsolateral caudate nucleus, DAT and TH immunoreactivities were present in both large-diameter and small-diameter profiles, which may represent varicose and intervaricose axon segments, respectively. Overall, the distribution of DAT-IR axons confirms and extends the results of previous reports, using other markers of DA axons, that the DA innervation of the primate cerebral cortex is global but specialized on both a regional basis and a laminar basis. In particular, these observations reveal an anatomical substrate for a direct and potent influence of DA over neuronal activity in posterior parietal cortex and in certain regions of the temporal lobe. However, due to its predominant distribution to small-diameter profiles, immunoreactivity for DAT may not be an appropriate ultrastructural marker for larger DA varicosities in the primate cortex. Moreover, this distribution of DAT suggests that cortical DA fibers may permit greater neurotransmitter diffusion than subcortical DA axons.
"Furthermore, the catabolic action of COMT is important in regulating the levels of DA in the prefrontal cortex   , and the structure and function of this region have been confirmed to contribute to schizophrenia. These studies suggest that COMT plays a crucial role in the onset of schizophrenia and may act on the morphological changes of brain structure in this mental disorder. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene is a schizophrenia susceptibility gene. A common functional polymorphism of this gene, Val158/158Met, has been proposed to influence gray matter volume (GMV). However, the effects of this polymorphism on cortical thickness/surface area in schizophrenic patients are less clear. In this study, we explored the relationship between the Val158Met polymorphism of the COMT gene and the GMV/cortical thickness/cortical surface area in 150 first-episode treatment-naïve patients with schizophrenia and 100 healthy controls. Main effects of diagnosis were found for GMV in the cerebellum and the visual, medial temporal, parietal, and middle frontal cortex. Patients with schizophrenia showed reduced GMVs in these regions. And main effects of genotype were detected for GMV in the left superior frontal gyrus. Moreover, a diagnosis × genotype interaction was found for the GMV of the left precuneus, and the effect of the COMT gene on GMV was due mainly to cortical thickness rather than cortical surface area. In addition, a pattern of increased GMV in the precuneus with increasing Met dose found in healthy controls was lost in patients with schizophrenia. These findings suggest that the COMTMet variant is associated with the disruption of dopaminergic influence on gray matter in schizophrenia, and the effect of the COMT gene on GMV in schizophrenia is mainly due to changes in cortical thickness rather than in cortical surface area.
"Second, stimulants are known to act on areas of the brain that are important for directed attention, including the striatum and frontal and parietal cortices (Mehta et al, 2000; Volkow et al, 1998). High densities of DAT-immunoreactive axons have also recently been reported in the parietal lobe (Lewis et al, 2001). Third, an important role for the parietal lobe in ADHD has recently emerged from brain imaging studies. "
"This gene, SLC6A3 or DAT1, is characterized by a functional variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in the 3′ untranslated region. DAT is expressed primarily in the striatum (Mill, Asherson, Browes, D'Souza, & Craig, 2002; Sesack, Hawrylak, Matus, Guido, & Levey, 1998; VanNess et al., 2005), but has also been found in reduced quantities in the PFC (Lewis et al., 2001; Sesack et al., 1998). DAT regulates the duration of cellular action of DA in these areas. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cognitive performance is modulated by the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA). Recently, it has been proposed that DA has a strong impact on top-down but not on bottom-up selective visual attention. We tested this assumption by analyzing the influence of two gene variants of the dopaminergic system. Both the catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) protein and the dopamine transporter (DAT) protein are crucial for the degradation and inactivation of DA. These metabolizing proteins modulate the availability of DA, especially in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia. The functional COMT Val158Met polymorphism of the COMT gene represents two coding variants, valine and methionine. In Met allele carriers, the COMT activity is reduced three- to fourfold. A variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) polymorphism exists in the DAT1 gene, which encodes DAT. The DAT density was reported to be about 50 % higher for the DAT1 10-repeat than the DAT1 9-repeat allele. We assessed attention via two experimental tasks that predominantly measure either top-down processing (the Stroop task) or bottom-up processing (the Posner-Cuing task). Carriers of the Met allele of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism displayed better performance in the Stroop task, but did not outperform the other participants in the Posner-Cuing task. The same result was noted for carriers of the DAT1 10-repeat allele. From these findings, we suggest that normal variations of the dopaminergic system impact more strongly on top-down than on bottom-up attention.
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