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A study of the serotonin transporter in the prefrontal cortex in late-life depression and Alzheimer's disease with and without depression

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alan ThomasORCiD, Dr Margaret Piggott, Emeritus Professor Nicol Ferrier, Emeritus Professor Elaine Perry, Professor John O'Brien


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Previous studies investigating the serotonin transporter (SERT) in depression have been inconsistent and included a large proportion of subjects who had committed suicide. In Alzheimer's disease studies have generally reported a reduction in SERT density but have not compared Alzheimer's disease subjects with and without comorbid major depression. We conducted a post mortem study of SERT density in the prefrontal cortex in normal elderly, a group of elderly depressed subjects and in Alzheimer's disease subjects with and without major depression. A post mortem study comparing SERT density in the prefrontal cortex in elderly controls (n = 10), subjects with major depression (n = 8) and subjects with Alzheimer's disease with (n = 9) and without (n = 5) comorbid major depression. We used autoradiography to measure the density of [3H]CN-IMI binding (non-specific binding determined with citalopram) to the SERT in the prefrontal cortex. We found a marked reduction in specific SERT binding in the prefrontal cortex in Alzheimer's disease subjects compared with both control (P = 0.002) and depressed subjects (P = 0.004) but no difference in SERT binding between depressed and control subjects or between Alzheimer's disease subjects with and without depression. Our study confirms previous reports of a reduction in SERT binding in Alzheimer's disease but indicates this reduction is not greater in Alzheimer's disease subjects who also have had major depression. In a group of subjects more typical of late-life depression we did not identify any alterations in SERT density. © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thomas AJ, Hendriksen M, Piggott M, Ferrier IN, Perry E, Ince P, O'Brien JT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology

Year: 2006

Volume: 32

Issue: 3

Pages: 296-303

ISSN (print): 0305-1846

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2990

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2990.2006.00728.x

PubMed id: 16640648


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0400074Medical Research Council
G0502157Medical Research Council