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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 Jun;16(5):937-43. doi: 10.1017/S1461145712001009. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Occupancy of serotonin and norepinephrine transporter by milnacipran in patients with major depressive disorder: a positron emission tomography study with [(11)C]DASB and (S,S)-[(18)F]FMeNER-D(2).

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Clinical Neuroimaging Team, Molecular Neuroimaging Program, Molecular Imaging Center, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, Japan.


Antidepressants used for treatment of depression exert their efficacy by blocking reuptake at serotonin transporters (5-HTT) and/or norepinephrine transporters (NET). Recent studies suggest that serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors that block both 5-HTT and NET have better tolerability than tricyclic antidepressants and may have higher efficacy compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies have reported >80% 5-HTT occupancy with clinical doses of antidepressants, but there has been no report of NET occupancy in patients treated with antidepressants. In the present study, we investigated both 5-HTT and NET occupancies by PET using radioligands [(11)C]DASB and (S,S)-[(18)F]FMeNER-D(2), in six patients, each with major depressive disorder (MDD), using various doses of milnacipran. Our data show that mean 5-HTT occupancy in the thalamus was 33.0% at 50 mg, 38.6% at 100 mg, 60.0% at 150 mg and 61.5% at 200 mg. Mean NET occupancy in the thalamus was 25.3% at 25 mg, 40.0% at 100 mg, 47.3% at 125 mg and 49.9% at 200 mg. Estimated ED(50) was 122.5 mg with the dose for 5-HTT and 149.9 mg for NET. Both 5-HTT and NET occupancies were observed in a dose-dependent manner. Both 5-HTT and NET occupancies were about 40% by milnacipran at 100 mg, the dose most commonly administered to MDD patients.

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