Dopamine function in cigarette smokers: An [18]-DOPA PET study

Michael A.P. Bloomfield, Fiona Pepper, Alice Egerton, Arsime Demjaha, Gianpaolo Tomasi, Elias Mouchlianitis, Levi Maximen, Mattia Veronese, Federico Turkheimer, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Oliver D. Howes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Tobacco addiction is a global public health problem. Addiction to tobacco is thought to involve the effects of nicotine on the dopaminergic system. Only one study has previously investigated dopamine synthesis capacity in cigarette smokers. This study, exclusively in male volunteers, reported increased dopamine synthesis capacity in heavy smokers compared with non-smokers. We sought to determine whether dopamine synthesis capacity was elevated in a larger sample of cigarette smokers that included females. Dopamine synthesis capacity was measured in 15 daily moderate smokers with 15 sex- and age-matched control subjects who had never smoked tobacco. Dopamine synthesis capacity (indexed as the influx rate constant K i cer) was measured with positron emission tomography and 3,4-dihydroxy-6-[18]-fluoro-l-phenylalanine. There was no significant group difference in dopamine synthesis capacity between smokers and non-smoker controls in the whole striatum (t 28 =0.64, p=0.53) or any of its functional subdivisions. In smokers, there were no significant relationships between the number of cigarettes smoked per day and dopamine synthesis capacity in the whole striatum (r=-0.23, p=0.41) or any striatal subdivision. These findings indicate that moderate smoking is not associated with altered striatal dopamine synthesis capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2397-2404
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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