Platelet and whole blood serotonin content in depressed inpatients: correlations with acute and life-time psychopathology

Biol Psychiatry. 1992 Aug 1;32(3):243-57. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(92)90106-a.


Platelet or whole blood serotonin content did not differ significantly in patients with major depression compared to healthy controls, but within the patient group, platelet serotonin levels correlated negatively with severity of depression (r = -0.49, p = 0.007). Levels were 39% lower in patients who had made a suicide attempt compared to nonattempter patients (47.2 +/- 27.3 versus 77.6 +/- 41.7 ng/10(8) platelets, p = 0.04). Conversely, comorbid borderline personality disorder (85.3 +/- 41.5 ng/10(8) platelets) was associated with 31% greater platelet serotonin content than nonborderline patients (58.9 +/- 31.1 ng/10(8) platelets) and 27% greater than healthy controls (62.4 +/- 19.8 ng/10(8) platelets). A pronounced seasonal variation in whole blood and platelet serotonin content was found in both patients and controls, largely due to lower levels in summer. Excluding cases tested in the summer abolished the statistically significant differences in patients with and without comorbid borderline personality disorder (BPD). Nevertheless, BPD attempters had lower serotonin levels than BPD nonattempters but higher serotonin levels than non-BPD attempters. Current hostility and a life-time history of aggression were positively correlated with platelet serotonin content (r = 0.44, p = 0.04 and r = 0.41, p = 0.06). This study provides evidence for an association between lower platelet serotonin content and depression and suicidal behavior, and association of higher platelet serotonin content and comorbid borderline personality disorder and behavior traits such as aggressivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / blood
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment
  • Seasons
  • Serotonin / blood*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology


  • Serotonin