Rationale: There is evidence that abnormalities in brain dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin metabolism may play an important role in binge eating. Serotonin-active antidepressant drugs have also been found to decrease binge eating. Objective: We investigated serotonin transporter binding in obese binge-eating women. Eleven obese binge-eating and seven obese control women participated in the study. The subjects were not taking any medication known to affect serotonin (5-HT) transporters. Methods: We used single-photon emission tomography (SPECT) with the radioligand 123I-labelled nor-β-CIT, which specifically labels 5-HT transporters. Results: Obese binge-eating women showed significantly decreased 5-HT transporter binding in the mid-brain compared with obese controls (2.1±0.5 versus 2.9±0.5, respectively). Conclusions: SPECT imaging with a ligand specific for 5-HT transporters can be used to assess altered serotonin transporter binding in the living human brain. The results tentatively suggest that 5-HT transporter binding is decreased in binge-eating women.
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Kuikka, J.T., Tammela, L., Karhunen, L. et al. Reduced serotonin transporter binding in binge eating women. Psychopharmacology 155, 310–314 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130100716