Changes in striatal dopamine transporters in bipolar disorder and valproate treatment

Yuan Shuo Hsueh, Chih Ying Lin, Nan Tsing Chiu, Yen Kuang Yang, Po See Chen, Hui Hua Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggested that a disturbance of the dopamine system underlies the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD). In addition, the therapeutic action of medications for treating BD, such as valproate (VPA), might modulate dopamine system activity, but it remains unclear. Here, we aimed to investigate the role of the striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) in BD patients and in social defeat (SD) mice treated with VPA. METHODS: We enrolled community-dwelling controls (N = 18) and BD patients (N = 23) who were treated with VPA in a euthymic stage. The striatal DAT availabilities were approached by TRODAT-1 single photon emission computed tomography. We also established a chronic SD mouse model and treated mice with 350 mg/kg VPA for 3 weeks. Behavioral tests were administered, and striatal DAT expression levels were determined. RESULTS: In humans, the level of striatal DAT availability was significantly higher in euthymic BD patients (1.52 ± 0.17 and 1.37 ± 0.23, p = 0.015). Moreover, the level of striatal DAT availability was also negatively correlated with the VPA concentration in BD patients (r = -0.653, p = 0.003). In SD mice, the expression of striatal DAT significantly increased (p < 0.001), and the SD effect on DAT expression was rescued by VPA treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The striatal DAT might play a role in the pathophysiology of BD and in the therapeutic mechanism of VPA. The homeostasis of DAT might represent a new therapeutic strategy for BD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e9
JournalEuropean psychiatry : the journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 8

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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