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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Feb;28(2):413-20. Epub 2002 Jul 19.

Changes in human in vivo serotonin and dopamine transporter availabilities during chronic antidepressant administration.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. akira.kugaya@yale.edu


Few studies have demonstrated in vivo alterations of human serotonin and dopamine transporters (SERTS and DATS) during antidepressant treatment. The current study measured these transporter availabilities with [(123)I]beta-CIT single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) during administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or a non-SSRI, bupropion. A total of 17 healthy human subjects were randomly assigned to two different treatment protocols: (1). citalopram (40 mg/day) followed by augmentation with bupropion (100 mg/day) or (2). bupropion (100-200 mg/day) for 16 days. Citalopram significantly inhibited [(123)I]beta-CIT binding to SERT in brainstem (51.4%) and diencephalon (39.4%) after 8 days of administration, which was similarly observed after 16 days. In contrast, citalopram significantly increased striatal DAT binding by 15-17% after 8 and 16 days of administration. Bupropion and its augmentation to citalopram did not have a significant effect on DAT or SERT. In 10 depressed patients who were treated with paroxetine (20 mg/day), a similar increase in DAT and inhibition of SERT were observed during 6 weeks treatment. The results demonstrated the inhibition of SERT by SSRI in human in vivo during the chronic treatment and, unexpectedly, an elevation of DAT. This apparent SSRI-induced modulation of the dopamine system may be associated with the side effects of these agents, including sexual dysfunction.

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