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Striatal dopamine d2/3 receptor availability in treatment resistant depression

Research group Willuhn
Publication year 2014
Published in PLoS One
Authors D. Denys, Bart P de Kwaasteniet, Chedwa Pinto, Eric H G Ruhé, Guido A van Wingen, Jan Booij,

Several studies demonstrated improvement of depressive symptoms in treatment resistant depression (TRD) after administering dopamine agonists which suggest abnormal dopaminergic neurotransmission in TRD. However, the role of dopaminergic signaling through measurement of striatal dopamine D2/3 receptor (D2/3R) binding has not been investigated in TRD subjects. We used [123I]IBZM single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to investigate striatal D2/3R binding in TRD. We included 6 severe TRD patients, 11 severe TRD patients on antipsychotics (TRD AP group) and 15 matched healthy controls. Results showed no significant difference (p = 0.75) in striatal D2/3R availability was found between TRD patients and healthy controls. In the TRD AP group D2/3R availability was significantly decreased (reflecting occupancy of D2/3Rs by antipsychotics) relative to TRD patients and healthy controls (p<0.001) but there were no differences in clinical symptoms between TRD AP and TRD patients. This preliminary study therefore does not provide evidence for large differences in D2/3 availability in severe TRD patients and suggests this TRD subgroup is not characterized by altered dopaminergic transmission. Atypical antipsychotics appear to have no clinical benefit in severe TRD patients who remain depressed, despite their strong occupancy of D2/3Rs.

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