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Abstract

Aging of the human brain is associated with a decline in dopamine (DA) function, generally interpreted as reflecting DA cell loss. Postitron emission tomography studies revealed that in healthy individuals, the age-related losses in DA transporters (presynaptic marker) were associated with losses in D2 receptors (postsynaptic marker) rather than with increases as is known to occur with DA cell loss. This association was specific for DA synaptic markers, because they were not correlated with striatal metabolism. Furthermore, the association was independent of age, suggesting that a common mechanism regulates the expression of receptors and transporters irrespective of age.