Neuroreceptor imaging in depression

Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Apr;52:49-65. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.06.001. Epub 2012 Jun 9.


The in vivo study of receptor binding potential in the human brain is made possible by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Here we review PET studies of neuroreceptor function in mood disorders - specifically, major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). We concentrate on the most widely studied receptors of the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems. Specifically, the serotonin 1A (5-HT(1A)), serotonin 2A (5-HT(2A)), serotonin 1B (5-HT(1B)), dopamine 1 (D1), and dopamine 2/3 (D2/3) receptors. We also review PET studies of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT), the dopamine transporter (DAT), monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), and the muscarinic 2 receptor (M2). On the basis of the PET literature as well as supporting genetic studies, postmortem data, and preclinical models of depression, and several models of how monoaminergic function is altered in mood disorders are discussed with respect to inflammation, endocrine dysfunction, depression subtypes, and altered neurocircuitry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bipolar Disorder / metabolism
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Monoamine Oxidase
  • monoamine oxidase A, human