Elevated Putamen D2Receptor Binding Potential in Major Depression With Motor Retardation: An [11C]Raclopride Positron Emission Tomography Study
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OBJECTIVE: Several antidepressants raise striatal dopamine, but the role of striatal dopamine during major depressive episodes is unclear. Striatal [(11)C]raclopride binding potential measured with positron emission tomography is an index of D(2) type receptors and is sensitive to extracellular dopamine levels (higher D(2) binding potential occurs when dopamine is lower). It was hypothesized that putamen D(2) binding potential would be higher during major depressive episodes featuring motor retardation. METHOD: Drug-free, nonsmoking subjects experiencing a major depressive episode (N=21) underwent [(11)C]raclopride PET imaging as did 21 healthy age-matched comparison subjects. Motor retardation was measured with the finger tapping test. RESULTS: The depressed subjects exhibiting motor retardation had significantly higher D(2) binding potential in both the left and right putamen than did healthy subjects, and putamen D(2) binding potential correlated significantly with motor speed in the depressed subjects. CONCLUSIONS: The results argue that extracellular dopamine is lower in subjects experiencing a major depressive episode that features motor retardation. This depression subtype should preferentially benefit from dopamine-increasing medications and should be targeted in future clinical trials of dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
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