The effects of serotonin modulation on medial prefrontal connectivity strength and stability: A pharmacological fMRI study with citalopram

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 8;84(Pt A):152-159. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.01.021. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Background: Static and dynamic functional connectivity are being increasingly used to measure the effects of disease and a range of different interventions on brain networks. While preliminary evidence suggests that static connectivity can be modulated by chronic antidepressants administration in healthy individuals and in major depression, much less is known about the acute effects of antidepressants especially on dynamic functional connectivity changes. Here we examine acute effects of antidepressants on dynamic functional connectivity within the default mode network. The default mode network is a well described network with many functions in which the role of serotonin is not clear.

Methods: In this work we measured acute pharmacological effects of an infusion of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram (10 mg) in a sample of thirteen healthy volunteers randomised to receive on two occasions the active compound or placebo in a cross over dosing.

Results: Acute citalopram administration relative to placebo increased static connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. The SSRI also induced a reduction in variability of connectivity with the medial prefrontal cortex in the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex.

Discussion: The measured changes are compatible with modified serotonin cortical availability.

Keywords: Citalopram; Functional MRI; MRI; SSRI; Serotonin.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Mapping
  • Citalopram / pharmacology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Citalopram
  • Serotonin