Postpartum and depression status are associated with lower 11 craclopride BP ND in reproductive-age women

Eydie L. Moses-Kolko*, Julie C. Price, Katherine L. Wisner, Barbara H. Hanusa, Carolyn C. Meltzer, Sarah L. Berga, Anthony A. Grace, Teresa Lanza Di Scalea, Walter H. Kaye, Carl Becker, Wayne C. Drevets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The early postpartum period is associated with increased risk for affective and psychotic disorders. Because maternal dopaminergic reward system function is altered with perinatal status, dopaminergic system dysregulation may be an important mechanism of postpartum psychiatric disorders. Subjects included were non-postpartum healthy (n=13), postpartum healthy (n=13), non-postpartum unipolar depressed (n=10), non-postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7), postpartum unipolar (n=13), and postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7) women. Subjects underwent 60 min of [ 11C]raclopride-positron emission tomography imaging to determine the nondisplaceable striatal D 2/3 receptor binding potential (BP ND). Postpartum status and unipolar depression were associated with lower striatal D 2/3 receptor BP ND in the whole striatum (p0.05 and p0.02, respectively) that reached a maximum of 7-8% in anteroventral striatum for postpartum status (p0.02). Unipolar depression showed a nonsignificant trend toward being associated with 5% lower BP ND in dorsal striatum (p0.06). D 2/3 receptor BP ND did not differ significantly between unipolar depressed and healthy postpartum women or between bipolar and healthy subjects; however, D 2/3 receptor BP ND was higher in dorsal striatal regions in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives (p0.02). In conclusion, lower striatal D 2/3 receptor BP ND in postpartum and unipolar depressed women, primarily in ventral striatum, and higher dorsal striatal D 2/3 receptor BP ND in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives reveal a potential role for the dopamine (DA) system in the physiology of these states. Further studies delineating the mechanisms underlying these differences in D 2/3 receptor BP ND, including study of DA system responsivity to rewarding stimuli, and increasing power to assess unipolar vs bipolar-related differences, are needed to better understand the affective role of the DA system in postpartum and depressed women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1422-1432
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2012


  • D receptors
  • PET
  • major depressive disorder
  • postpartum depression
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


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