Background: Brain serotonin-1A (5-HT(1A)) autoreceptors internalize when activated by agonist or by their endogenous ligand, serotonin. This positron-emission tomography (PET) study tested the hypothesis that 5-HT(1A) autoreceptor internalization might be indexed in vivo by a decrease in the specific binding of the 5-HT(1A) radioligand, 4-[18F]fluoro-N-[2-[1-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1 piperazinyl]ethyl-N-2-pyridinyl-benzamide ([(18)F]MPPF), in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) of healthy adult men administered a single oral dose of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine.
Methods: [(18)F]MPPF binding potential was measured in the DRN and other brain regions endowed with 5-HT(1A) receptors in eight healthy volunteers, 5 hours after the randomized, double-blind administration of fluoxetine (20 mg) or placebo.
Results: In every subject, [(18)F]MPPF binding potential was decreased in the DRN only (44% +/- 22 SD), in response to fluoxetine.
Conclusions: Imaging the functional state of 5-HT(1A) autoreceptors (i.e., internalization) in the human brain, using [(18)F]MPPF/PET, may represent a promising avenue for investigating the neurobiology of serotonin-related disorders and notably of major depression.