Daily-Life Stress Differentially Impacts Ventral Striatal Dopaminergic Modulation of Reward Processing in First-degree Relatives of Individuals with Psychosis

Poster B58, Tuesday, October 9, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Zuzana Kasanova1, Jenny Ceccarini2, Michael J. Frank3, Therese van Amelsvoort4, Jan Booij5, Alexander Heinzel6, Felix Mottaghy6, Inez Myin-Germeys1; 1Center for Contextual Psychiatry, Department of Neuroscience, KU Leuven – Leuven University, Leuven, Belgium, 2Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Imaging & Pathology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, 3Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, USA, 4Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 5Department of Nuclear Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 6Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

Stress confers risk for the development of the psychotic disorder, hallmarked by motivational and hedonic deficits. Stress-induced attenuation of reward-oriented behavior proposes a plausible underlying mechanism of this phenomenon. Ventral striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission has been shown to modulate reactivity to laboratory as well as naturalistic rewards, and has been found to be affected by stressors as well. We investigated the hypothesis that stress experienced in the real life has a blunting effect on reward-related dopamine release in the ventral striatum of 16 individuals at a familial risk for psychosis compared to 16 control subjects. We performed 6 days of ecological momentary assessments quantifying the amount of daily-life stress prior to a 18F-fallypride PET imaging scan during a probabilistic reward learning condition. Relative to the controls, individuals at a familial risk for psychosis who encountered more daily-life stress showed significantly diminished extent of reward-induced dopamine release in the right ventral striatum, as well as poorer performance on the reward task. These findings provide the first neuromolecular evidence for the elusive stress-induced deregulation of reward processing in familial predisposition to psychosis. The implication of daily-life stress in compromised modulation of reward function may facilitate the design of targeted neuropharmacological and ecological interventions.

Topic Area: Stress Responsivity

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