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Decreased lymphocyte dopamine transporter in romantic lovers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2016

Donatella Marazziti
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Stefano Baroni
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Gino Giannaccini
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Farmacia, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Armando Piccinni
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Federico Mucci
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Mario Catena-Dell’Osso
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Grazia Rutigliano
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Gabriele Massimetti
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Liliana Dell’Osso
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Corresponding

Abstract

Objective

The role of dopamine (DA) in romantic love is suggested by different evidence and is supported by the findings of some brain imaging studies. The DA transporter (DAT) is a key structure in regulating the concentration of the neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft. Given the presence of DAT in blood cells, the present study aimed to explore it in resting lymphocytes of 30 healthy subjects of both sexes in the early stage of romantic love (no longer than 6 months), as compared with 30 subjects involved in a long-lasting relationship.

Methods

All subjects had no physical or psychiatric illness. The DAT was measured by means of the [3H]-WIN 35,428 binding and the [3H]-DA reuptake to resting lymphocytes membranes. Romantic love was assessed by a specific questionnaire developed by us.

Results

The results showed that the subjects in the early phase of romantic love had a global alteration of the lymphocyte DAT involving both a decreased number of proteins (Bmax) and a reduced functionality (Vmax).

Conclusions

Taken together, these findings would indicate the presence of increased levels of DA in romantic love that, if paralleled by similar concentrations in the brain, would explain some peculiar features of this human feeling.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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