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Blood Dopamine D2 Receptors as Biomarkers for Brain Dopamine

ID: 2018-057 and 2014-098 BYU has discovered monocytes in the blood that provide a direct correlation to dopamine levels in the brain.

Principal Investigator: Scott Steffensen

Dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) are autoreceptors on dopamine neurons in the brain. Their expression correlates directly with brain dopamine levels in dopamine-dependent disorders like Parkinson’s, ADHD, Schizophrenia, and addiction. Brain D2R expression is a well-known biomarker for brain dopamine levels, drug abuse, and dependence. Current methods to study the levels of brain dopamine can be cost inhibitive and invasive. Researchers at BYU have developed a device that uses microfluidics technology to easily detect D2R expression in blood samples. Specific populations of D2R-expressing white blood cells mirror the levels of D2R expression in the brain, for example in Parkinson’s disease (Fig. 1).

This invention provides primary and secondary health professionals a tool to monitor dopamine disorders, which will improve diagnosis and treatment. This will lead to an objective measure of brain dopamine and biofeedback for improvement.

For more information, contact Mike Alder (801-422-3049)

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. BYU News Article
  3. Inventor Webpage - Scott Steffensen
  4. Addiction Lab Webpage