, Volume 250, Issue 5, pp 576-580

The degree of depression in Hamilton rating scale is correlated with the density of presynaptic serotonin transporters in 23 patients with Wilson's disease

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Objective: One of the most frequent psychiatric symptoms in patients with Wilson's disease (WD) is depression. It has been suggested that depression is associated with deficits in serotonergic neurotransmission, but, hitherto, no measurements have been performed in WD. Methods: We prospectively examined 23 adult patients (12 women, 11 men, mean age 40 years) with WD for symptoms of depression using the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD). We correlated the data with the presynaptic serotonin transporter density (SERT density) in the thalamus–hypothalamus and the midbrain–pons regions measured with high resolution single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) 24 hours after the application of 180 MBq 2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4 [123I]iodophenyl)tropane ( [123I]b-CIT). The regions of interest were determined by coregistration with a standard MRI dataset. Results: A significant negative correlation was found between HAMD and SERT density in the thalamus–hypothalamus region (r = −0.49, p = 0.02), but not in the midbrain–pons (r = −0.31, p = 0.15). Conclusions: We conclude that depression in patients with Wilson's disease is correlated with alterations of serotonergic neurotransmission in the thalamus–hypothalamus region.

Received: 24 July 2002, Received in revised form: 20 November 2002, Accepted: 28 November 2002
Correspondence to Wieland Hermanns, MD