The serotonin-1A receptor distribution in healthy men and women measured by PET and [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635
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The higher prevalence rates of depression and anxiety disorders in women compared to men have been associated with sexual dimorphisms in the serotonergic system. The present positron emission tomography (PET) study investigated the influence of sex on the major inhibitory serotonergic receptor subtype, the serotonin-1A (5-HT1A) receptor.
Sixteen healthy women and 16 healthy men were measured using PET and the highly specific radioligand [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635. Effects of age or gonadal hormones were excluded by restricting the inclusion criteria to young adults and by controlling for menstrual cycle phase. The 5-HT1A receptor BPND was quantified using (1) the ‘gold standard’ manual delineation approach with ten regions of interest (ROIs) and (2) a newly developed delineation method using a PET template normalized to the Montreal Neurologic Institute space with 45 ROIs based on automated anatomical labeling.
The 5-HT1A receptor BPND was found equally distributed in men and women applying both the manual delineation method and the automated delineation approach. Women had lower mean BPND values in every region investigated, with a borderline significant sex difference in the hypothalamus (p = 0.012, uncorrected). There was a high intersubject variability of the 5-HT1A receptor BPND within both sexes compared to the small mean differences between men and women.
To conclude, when measured in the follicular phase, women do not differ from men in the 5-HT1A receptor binding. To explain the higher prevalence of affective disorders in women, further studies are needed to evaluate the relationship between hormonal status and the 5-HT1A receptor expression.
KeywordsPositron emission tomography 5-HT1A receptor Serotonin Sex [Carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635
This research was supported by grants from the Austrian National Bank (OENB P11468) and the Medical Science Fund of the City of Vienna (BMF P2515) to R. Lanzenberger and a grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF P16549). The authors thank Veronica Witte, Andreas Hahn, Alexander Holik, Alexander Becherer and Christian Bieglmayer for their support.
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