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Abstract

The dopamine hypothesis for Tourette's syndrome proposes that the disorder is pathologically related either to an excessive amount of dopamine or to supersensitive receptors. To evaluate these proposals, pre- and postsynaptic markers of dopamine metabolism were measured in postmortem striatum from three adults with the diagnosis of Tourette's syndrome. Neuronal dopamine uptake carrier sites ([3H]mazindol binding) were significantly increased in number over control values by 37% in the caudate and by 50% in the putamen. High-pressure liquid chromatographic assays of dopamine and its primary metabolites, homovanillic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, showed normal findings. D1 and D2 subtypes of dopaminergic receptors ([3H]SCH 23390 and [3H]spiperone binding, respectively) showed only slight alterations, presumably due to treatment with neuroleptics. The concentration of adenosine 3′,5′- monophosphate (cyclic AMP) in putamen was reduced by 23%. Our data support earlier proposals of a dopaminergic abnormality in TS, but suggest that the mechanism involves a significant alteration of uptake sites. We spéculate that increases in carrier site binding indicate an enhanced dopamine innervation within the striatum.