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.
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