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Assessment of cerebral dopamine D_{2/3}-receptors in patients with bilateral vestibular failure

J Vestib Res. 2014 Jan 1;24(5):403-13. doi: 10.3233/VES-140526.

Authors/Editors: Jansen NL, Feuerecker R, Becker-Bense S, Zwergal A, Wulff M, Xiong G, Wängler B, Cumming P, Bartenstein P, Dieterich M, la Fougère C.
Publication Date: 2014



Absence of peripheral vestibular input in bilateral vestibular failure (BVF) has been suggested to induce plastic reorganization in various brain regions. Among several neurotransmitters, dopamine is known to play a key role in cortico-striatal-sensorimotor processing. However, the role of dopamine in vestibular plasticity is scantly documented.

Assessment of D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptors in patients with BVF.

D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor-PET using [<formula>^{18}</formula>F]fallypride and MRI examinations were performed in 12 BVF-patients and 13 healthy controls.

BVF-patients showed reduced D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability (approximately 40%) in the temporo-parieto-occipital cortex bilaterally, including the multisensory vestibular cortex and visual motion-sensitive areas (MT/MST), as well as in the striatum and the right thalamus. Longer illness duration was associated with bilaterally lower D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability in the middle/superior temporal gyrus (GTm/s). D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability in the right GTm/s and bilateral insula decreased with severity of symptoms. BVF-patients with oscillopsia showed reduced D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability in the right MT/MST and midbrain tectum.

Reduced D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability in multisensory vestibular cortical network areas and basal ganglia may indicate a receptor down-regulation due to the lack of peripheral vestibular input. The more pronounced decline in D<formula>_{2/3}</formula>-receptor availability in the multisensory vestibular cortex in patients with prolonged illness suggests the occurrence of progressive changes in dopamine transmission.

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