Biogenic Amines and Affective Disorders

  • Alec Coppen
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 1)


There is now a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that the biogenic amines are involved in the etiology of the affective disorders. This evidence consists of a growing number of investigations of the biogenic amines in patients suffering from depression and mania, and also of observations of the effect of manipulating brain amines on mood in patients and in normal subjects. This paper will examine some of the direct evidence for a disturbance in biogenic amines in patients suffering from affective disorders, to examine the etiological implications of these findings, and to consider what the implications of these findings are for treatment. I shall be dealing with the indoleamines—serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) and tryptamine—whose biosynthesis and metabolism are illustrated in Figure 1. I do this not because I naively think that only serotonin is important in these conditions, but because most of my own research interests have been centered in this area; in a later paper, Dr. Schildkraut will describe catecholamine metabolism in affective disorders. Moreover, I should like to stress my view that the clinical pathology of the affective disorders is probably very complex, involving not only the biogenic amines but probably other abnormalities as well.


Affective Disorder Biogenic Amine Indoleacetic Acid Homovanillic Acid Depressive Illness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ashcroft, G. W.; Crawford, T. B. B.; Eccleston, D.; Sharman, D. F.; MacDougall, E. J.; Stanton, J. B.; and Binns, J. F. 1966. 5-Hydroxy-indole compounds in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with psychiatric or neurological disease. Lancet 2:1049.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourne, H. R.; Bunney, W. E.; Colburn, R. W.; Davis, J. N.; Davis, J. M.; Shaw, D. M.; and Coppen, A. J. 1968. Noradrenaline, 5-hy-droxytryptamine and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in the hindbrains of suicidal patients. Lancet 2:805.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bowers, M. B.; Heninger, G. R.; and Gerbode, F. 1969. Cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and homovanillic acid in psychiatric patients. Int. J. Neuropharmacol. 8:255.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bunney, W. E., and Davis, J. M. 1965. Norepinephrine in depressive reactions. Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 13:483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coppen, A. 1967. Mineral metabolism in affective disorders. Brit. J. Psychiat. 111:1133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coppen, A.; Prange, A. J.; Whybrow, P. C.; Noguera, R.; and Paez, J. M. 1959. Methysergide in mania. Lancet 2:338.Google Scholar
  7. Dencker, S. J.; Malm, V.; Roos, B.-E.; and Werdinius, B. 1966. Acid monoamine metabolites of cerebrospinal fluid in mental depression and mania. J. Neurochem. 13:1545.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dewhurst, W. G. 1968. Methysergide in mania. Nature 219:506.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Glassman, A. H., and Platman, S. R. 1970. Potentiation of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor by tryptophan. J. Psychiat. Res. 7:63.Google Scholar
  10. Goodwin, F. K.; Brodie, H. K. H.; Murphy, D. L.; and Bunney, W. E. 1970. Administration of a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor with L-dopa to depressed patients. Lancet 1:908.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Joyce, D. 1962. Changes in the 5-hydroxytryptamine content of rat, rabbit and human brain after death. Brit. J. Pharmacol. 18:370.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Matussek, N.; Benkert, O.; Schneider, K.; Otten, H.; and Pohlmeier, H. 1970. L-dopa plus decarboxylase inhibitor in depression. Lancet 2:660.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pare, C. M. B. 1963. Potentiation of monoamine oxidase inhibitors by tryptophan. Lancet 2:527.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pare, C. M. B.; Young, D. P. H.; Price, K.; and Stacey, R. S. 1969. 5-Hydroxytryptamine, noradrenaline and dopamine in brainstem, hy-pothalamus and caudate nucleus of controls and patients committing suicide by coal gas poisoning, Lancet 2:133.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shaw, D. M.; Camps, F. E.; and Eccleston, E. 1967. 5-Hydroxytryptamine in the hindbrains of depressive suicides. Brit. J. Psychiat. 113:1407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sjöström, R., and Roos, B.-E. 1970. Measurement of 5-HIAA and HVA in CSF in manic-depressive patients after probenecid application. Seventh Congress, Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmaco-logicum, Prague, Czechoslovakia.Google Scholar
  17. van Praag, H. M.; Korf, J.; and Puite, J. 1970. 5-Hydroxyindole-acetic acid levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of depressed patients treated with probenecid. Nature 225:1259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alec Coppen
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Research CouncilNeuropsychiatric Research Unit Greenbank, West Park HospitalEpsom, SurreyEngland

Personalised recommendations