Psychopharmacology

, Volume 213, Issue 2–3, pp 563–572

Central serotonin transporter levels are associated with stress hormone response and anxiety

  • Matthias Reimold
  • Astrid Knobel
  • Michael A. Rapp
  • Anil Batra
  • Klaus Wiedemann
  • Andreas Ströhle
  • Anke Zimmer
  • Peter Schönknecht
  • Michael N. Smolka
  • Daniel R. Weinberger
  • David Goldman
  • Hans-Jürgen Machulla
  • Roland Bares
  • Andreas Heinz
original investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-010-1903-y

Cite this article as:
Reimold, M., Knobel, A., Rapp, M.A. et al. Psychopharmacology (2011) 213: 563. doi:10.1007/s00213-010-1903-y

Abstract

Rationale

Negative mood states are characterized by both stress hormone dysregulation and serotonergic dysfunction, reflected by altered thalamic serotonin transporter (5-HTT) levels. However, so far, no study examined the individual association between cortisol response and cerebral in vivo 5-HTT levels in patients suffering from negative mood states.

Objective

The objective of this cross-sectional study was to assess the interrelation of cortisol response, thalamic 5-HTT levels, and anxiety in healthy subjects and two previously published samples of patients with unipolar major depression (UMD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), controlling for age, gender, 5-HTT genotype, smoking, and seasonality.

Methods

Regional 5-HTT levels and cortisol response to dexamethasone-corticotropin (Dex-CRH) challenge were assessed in consecutive samples of medication-free patients suffering from UMD (N = 10) and OCD (N = 10), and 20 healthy volunteers. The intervention used was combined Dex-CRH test and [11C]DASB positron emission tomography. The main outcome measures were: 5-HTT binding potential (BPND) in a predefined thalamic ROI, cortisol response defined as the maximum cortisol increase in the combined Dex-CRH-test, and state of anxiety from the state-trait-anxiety inventory.

Results

Reduced thalamic 5-HTT BPND was associated with increased cortisol response (r = −0.35, p < 0.05; in patients: r = −0.53, p < 0.01) and with increased state anxiety (r = −0.46, p < 0.01), surviving correction for age, gender, 5-HTT genotype, smoking, and seasonality (p < 0.05). The 5-HTT genotype, on the contrary, was not significantly associated with cortisol response (p = 0.19) or negative mood (p = 0.23).

Conclusion

The association between stress hormone response, thalamic 5-HTT levels, and anxiety in patients suffering from negative mood states suggests an interaction between two major mechanisms implicated in negative mood states in humans.

Keywords

Stress hormones Serotonin transporter Negative mood states PET Dex-CRH-Test 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Reimold
    • 1
  • Astrid Knobel
    • 2
  • Michael A. Rapp
    • 2
  • Anil Batra
    • 3
  • Klaus Wiedemann
    • 4
  • Andreas Ströhle
    • 2
  • Anke Zimmer
    • 5
  • Peter Schönknecht
    • 6
  • Michael N. Smolka
    • 7
  • Daniel R. Weinberger
    • 8
  • David Goldman
    • 9
  • Hans-Jürgen Machulla
    • 1
  • Roland Bares
    • 1
  • Andreas Heinz
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Nuclear Medicine, PET Center and RadiopharmacyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyCharité Campus MitteBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Hospital TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Department of Addiction Research, ZI MannheimUniversity of HeidelbergMannheimGermany
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospital LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  7. 7.Section of Systems Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  8. 8.National Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  9. 9.National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol AbuseBethesdaUSA

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