Increased 5-HT(2A) receptor binding in euthymic, medication-free patients recovered from depression: a positron emission study with [(11)C]MDL 100,907

Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;163(9):1580-7. doi: 10.1176/ajp.2006.163.9.1580.


Objective: A previous positron emission tomography (PET) study reported increased serotonin 5-HT(2A) receptor binding in unmedicated depressed patients with high scores on the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale. The purpose of the present study was to use the highly selective 5-HT(2A) receptor ligand [(11)C]MDL 100,907 in a PET imaging paradigm to assess 1) 5-HT(2A) receptor binding potential in euthymic subjects with a history of recurrent depression and 2) the relationship between receptor binding and scores on the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale.

Method: Cortical 5-HT(2A) receptor binding was measured in 20 unmedicated, fully recovered unipolar depressed patients and 20 age- and gender-matched comparison subjects. Regional estimates of binding potential were obtained using a reversible plasma input function compartmental model and the cerebellum as a reference region to estimate the free and non-specifically bound [(11)C]MDL 100,907 in brain tissue.

Results: Relative to the comparison subjects, the recovered depressed patients demonstrated significantly higher 5-HT(2A) receptor binding potential in the frontal cortex (mean increase: 19%), parietal cortex (mean increase: 25%), and occipital cortex (mean increase: 19%). 5-HT(2A) receptor binding potential correlated negatively with age in both patients and comparison subjects and positively with the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale in the recovered patients.

Conclusions: These findings should be considered preliminary but suggest that recovered subjects with a history of recurrent major depression have elevated binding potential of cortical 5-HT(2A) receptors. The correlation of increased 5-HT(2A) receptor binding potential with increased scores on Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale supports earlier work suggesting that increased 5-HT(2A) receptor availability characterizes a group of depressed patients with high levels of dysfunctional attitudes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Carbon Radioisotopes*
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fluorobenzenes* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Piperidines* / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A / metabolism*
  • Recurrence
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Fluorobenzenes
  • Piperidines
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A
  • volinanserin