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Neurosci Lett. 2005 Sep 9;385(2):120-5.

Serotonin transporter binding in Tourette Syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical School Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany.


Recent studies provided evidence for an involvement of the dopaminergic system in the pathophysiology of Tourette Syndrome (TS). However, little is known about possible impairment of other neurotransmitter systems. In obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a common comorbidity in TS, it is suggested that the serotonergic system plays a major role in the pathogenesis. We, therefore, used [I-123]2[beta]-carbomethoxy-3[beta]-(4-iodophenyl)tropane ([123I]beta-CIT) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to investigate serotonin transporter (SERT) binding capacity in 12 patients with TS with various degrees of associated obsessive compulsive behaviour (OCB) and 16 age-matched healthy controls. Binding ratios in TS patients not receiving serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) (n=8) were significantly reduced compared to age-adjusted ratios from normal controls (2.8 versus 3.2, p=0.003). Treatment with SSRI resulted in a significant reduction of SERT availability. Performing linear regression analysis for this small group, SSRI-free patients indicated trends for a negative correlation between [123I]beta-CIT binding on SERT and OCB (r=-0.78, p=0.023) as well as complex motor tics (r=-0.68, p=0.064). In healthy controls, but not in the TS group, we found an age-related decline in SERT binding capacity (0.28% decrease per year, p=0.038). Our data are in agreement with previous results suggesting an impairment of the serotonergic system in TS. It can be speculated that the reduction in SERT binding capacity is associated with the degree of comorbid OCB.

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