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Psychiatry Res. 2005 Oct 30;140(1):63-72. Epub 2005 Oct 6.

Serotonin and dopamine transporter imaging in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Leipzig, Stephanstrasse 11, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.


In obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the success of pharmacological treatment with serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and atypical antipsychotic drugs suggests that both the central serotonergic and dopaminergic systems are involved in the pathophysiology of the disorder. We applied [123I]-2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-idiophenyl)tropane (beta-CIT) and a brain-dedicated high-resolution single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) system to quantify dopamine transporter (DAT) and serotonin transporter (SERT) availability. By comparing 15 drug-naïve patients with OCD and 10 controls, we found a significantly reduced availability (corrected for age) of striatal DAT and of thalamic/hypothalamic, midbrain and brainstem SERT in OCD patients. Severity of OCD symptoms showed a significant negative correlation with thalamic/hypothalamic SERT availability, corrected for age and duration of symptoms. Our data provide evidence for imbalanced monoaminergic neurotransmitter modulation in OCD. Further studies with more selective DAT and SERT radiotracers are needed.

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