Platelet 5-HT(1A) receptor correlates with major depressive disorder in drug-free patients

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4;53:74-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.03.004. Epub 2014 Mar 20.


The platelet serotonergic system has potential biomarker utility for major depressive disorder (MDD). In the present study, platelet expression of 5-HT1A receptors and serotonin transporter (SERT) proteins, and serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were quantified in 53 patients with MDD and 22 unaffected controls. All were drug-free, non-smokers and had no other psychiatric and cardiovascular comorbidity. The severity of depression symptoms was evaluated using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) and the Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS). Patients with MDD had significantly higher expression of platelet 5-HT1A receptors but significantly lower contents of platelet 5-HT, platelet-poor plasma (PPP) 5-HT and PPP 5-HIAA compared to healthy controls, and this was correlated with the severity of depression. SERT expression did not differ between the two groups. Correlation analysis confirmed a strong, inverse relationship between the 5-HT1A receptor expression and the 5-HT and 5-HIAA levels. Thus overexpression of platelet 5-HT1A receptors and reduced 5-HT tone may function as a peripheral marker of depression.

Keywords: 5-HT(1A) receptor; 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA); Major depressive disorder; Platelet; Serotonin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / blood*
  • Serotonin / blood
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult


  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A
  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid