Impulsivity related to brain serotonin transporter binding capacity in suicide attempters

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2004 Aug;14(4):295-300. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2003.11.001.


Altered monoaminergic activity has earlier been associated with violent suicidal behaviour. In this study whole brain binding potential of the serotonin transporter (5HTT) and dopamine transporter (DAT) was measured by single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) in 12 patients after a serious suicide attempt and in 12 age, sex and season matched healthy controls. Clinical and temperamental assessments were analysed for possible associations with 5HTT and DAT. We found no significant 5HTT or DAT differences between patients and controls. In patients, but not in controls, there was a significant correlation between whole brain 5HTT and DAT. Impulsiveness according to the Marke Nyman Temperament (MNT) was significantly correlated to 5HTT in suicide attempters, but not in controls. Neither of the transporters could be regarded as a marker for serious suicidal behaviour. A previously discussed connection between serotonin and dopamine was replicated in this study. In suicide attempters, low 5HTT was associated with impulsivity and to some extent with depressive disorder-key factors for suicidal behaviour.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / diagnostic imaging
  • Impulsive Behavior / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A3 protein, human
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins