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Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Oct 1;52(7):740-8.

Dopaminergic abnormalities in amygdaloid nuclei in major depression: a postmortem study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson 39216, USA.



A deficiency of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) is a leading candidate for the etiology of certain symptoms of depression (e.g., anhedonia and loss of motivation). Here we show amounts of dopaminergic proteins in the amygdala, a key brain structure involved in the integration of emotions and stress, in subjects with major depression and in psychiatrically normal control subjects.


The specific binding of [(125)I]RTI 55 to the DA transporter, [(3)H]SCH 23390 to the D1 receptor and [(125)I]epidepride to D2/D3 receptors were measured in the right amygdaloid complex in postmortem brains from 11 subjects with major depression and 11 matched control subjects.


The binding of [(125)I]RTI 55 to DA transporter was significantly lower in the basal and central amygdaloid nuclei, whereas the binding of [(125)I]epidepride to D2/D3 receptors was significantly higher in the basal, central, and lateral amygdaloid nuclei in major depression compared with control subjects. No difference in the binding of [(3)H]SCH 23390 to D1 receptors was observed.


Given that DA depletion in rats can induce a reduction in the DA transporter and an upregulation of D2/D3 receptors, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that major depression is associated with a deficiency of mesolimbic DA.

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