Schreckenberger, M; Klega, A; Gründer, G; Buchholz, HG; Scheurich, A; Schirrmacher, R; Schirrmacher, E; Müller, C; Henriksen, G; Bartenstein, P
Opioid receptor PET reveals the psychobiologic correlates of reward processing.
Little is known about the neurobiologic correlates of human personality. On the basis of the key role of the central opioidergic system in addiction and substance abuse, we investigated the relationship between certain personality traits that are supposed to be relevant in addiction and the opioid receptor status in healthy subjects. METHODS: We investigated 23 healthy male volunteers who were extensively clinically tested to exclude substance abuse. All of the subjects underwent 1 PET scan with the subtype-nonselective opioidergic radioligand 18F-fluoroethyl-diprenorphine under resting conditions without sensory or cognitive stimulation. Subsequently, the subjects were psychologically tested for the personality traits novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence, according to Cloninger's biosocial model of personality. The binding potential (BP) as a parameter of regional cerebral opioid receptor availability was computed by means of the modified Logan plot using the occipital cortex as a reference region. Further imaging data analysis was performed using statistical parametric mapping; after stereotactic normalization, the correlations were calculated between the regional BP and the psychologic scores on a voxel-by-voxel basis. RESULTS: The correlation analysis between personality dimensions and opioid receptor availability showed a significant (P< 0.001) positive correlation between the scores of reward dependence and the BP of the bilateral ventral striatum with nucleus accumbens (z scores, 4.52 and 4.33, respectively). The additionally performed region-of-interest-based correlation analysis yielded correlation coefficients of r = 0.84 and r = 0.81 for the left and right ventral striata, respectively. No further significant correlations were detectable between the other personality dimensions and cerebral opioid receptor binding. CONCLUSION: In healthy subjects, personality traits, which might be predisposing for addictive behavior, are correlated to the opioidergic neurotransmission in core structures of the human reward system.