Understanding D2 and D3 Receptors Video

This video discusses the role of D2 and D3 receptors, 2 dopamine receptors that function as autoreceptors to help control dopamine release in the brain. They are believed to play an important role in mood regulation, particularly in patients with schizophrenia.


Understanding D2 and D3 receptors. There are 4 major dopamine pathways in the brain, and 5 major dopamine receptors subtypes. All receptor subtypes are found post-synaptically.

Only D2 and D3 receptors are also found pre-synaptically, where they function as autoreceptors to help regulate the synthesis and release of dopamine. When activated, autoreceptors inhibit dopamine release, and when antagonized, they allow dopamine release. D2 receptors are dispersed throughout the brain. Hyper-dopaminergic activity at some of these receptors are thought to be associated with positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Conversely, under-activation of certain D2 receptors due to either reduced endogenous dopamine or significant antagonism are thought to be associated with negative symptoms of schizophrenia and may be associated with hyperprolactinemia and extrapyramidal symptoms. D3 receptors are less abundant than D2 receptors and are mainly expressed in limbic areas.

Dopamine's affinity for the D3 receptor is greater than for the D2 receptor. In vivo studies have shown that post-synaptic D3 receptors are expressed in specific limbic regions, such as the nucleus accumbens. Antagonism or partial agonism of D3 receptors here may have antipsychotic effects. Animal model studies suggest that D3 receptor antagonism could also theoretically improve mood.

Dopamine neurons projecting from the ventral tegmentum to the prefrontal cortex can have D3 autoreceptors located on their neuronal cell body. Here, antagonism or partial agonism may increase dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex, and it is hypothesized that this may help improve mood and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

D2 and D3 are unique among the dopamine receptor subtypes and are thought to play an important role in mood regulation. 


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