Radioligand Studies in Depression

  • Hugo D’haenen


The availability of suitable radioligands is one of the important limiting factors in the further development of positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of human cerebral receptors and transporters. Currently, the available ligands allow the investigation of 5-HT2A, 5-HT1A and dopamine D2 receptors, and the serotonin and dopamine transporter. 5-HT2A receptors have been investigated most extensively. Overall findings are rather discordant. Among others, heterogeneity and size of clinical samples, previous treatments and, more particularly as far as 5-HT2A receptors are concerned, suicidality could be major confounding variables. Most, albeit not all, studies find an increased 5-HT2A ligand binding after SSRI treatment. Findings on the dopamine D2 receptors in depression are controversial, but successful SSRI treatment seems to be associated with increased D2 ligand binding. A few studies have looked at the 5-HT1A receptor and demonstrated decreases in binding. The one study which looked at the effect of an SSRI treatment found no effect. Serotonin transporter availability seems to be reduced in depression; its blockade was confirmed in those studies that investigated this transporter on SSRI treatment. Only one study has looked at the dopamine transporter and showed an increased ligand uptake.


Positron Emission Tomography Depressed Patient Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Dopamine Transporter Serotonin Transporter 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo D’haenen
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychiatric Department, Academic HospitalFree University of Brussels (V.U.B.)BrusselsBelgium

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