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Am J Psychiatry. 2005 May;162(5):915-23.

Brain serotonin transporter distribution in subjects with impulsive aggressivity: a positron emission study with [11C]McN 5652.

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Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Dr., Box 31, New York, NY 10032, USA.



The serotonin system is believed to play a role in modulating impulsivity and violence. Previous imaging studies have implicated the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex in impulsive aggression. This study evaluated regional serotonin transporter distribution in the brain of individuals with impulsive aggression by using positron emission tomography (PET) with the serotonin transporter PET radiotracer [(11)C]McN 5652.


Ten individuals with impulsive aggression and 10 age- and sex-matched healthy comparison subjects underwent [(11)C]McN 5652 PET. All individuals were medication free at the time of scanning. Regional total distribution volumes were derived by using a one-tissue compartment kinetic model with arterial input function. Outcome measures of serotonin transporter availability included the binding potential and the specific-to-nonspecific partition coefficient (V(3)'').


Serotonin transporter availability was significantly reduced in the anterior cingulate cortex of individuals with impulsive aggression compared with healthy subjects, as noted by differences in both binding potential (mean=3.1 ml/g [SD=1.9] versus 5.0 ml/g [SD=2.0], respectively) and V(3)'' (mean=0.15 [SD=0.09] versus 0.26 [SD=0.09]). In other regions examined, serotonin transporter density was nonsignificantly lower in individuals with impulsive aggression compared with healthy subjects.


Pathological impulsive aggressivity might be associated with lower serotonergic innervation in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region that plays an important role in affective regulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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