Serotonin transporter binding of [123I]ADAM in bulimic women, their healthy twin sisters, and healthy women: a SPET study

Koskela, Anu K.; Keski-Rahkonen, Anna; Sihvola, Elina; Kauppinen, Tomi; Kaprio, Jaakko; Ahonen, Aapo; Rissanen, Aila
January 2007
BMC Psychiatry;2007, Vol. 7, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is believed to be caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Previous studies support the existence of a bulimia-related endophenotype as well as disturbances in serotonin (5-HT) transmission. We studied serotonin transporter (SERT) binding in BN, and to investigate the possibility of a SERT-related endophenotype for BN, did this in a sample of female twins. We hypothesized clearly reduced SERT binding in BN women as opposed to healthy women, and intermediate SERT binding in unaffected co-twins. Methods: We studied 13 female twins with BN (9 with purging and 4 with non-purging BN) and 25 healthy women, including 6 healthy twin sisters of BN patients and 19 women from 10 healthy twin pairs. [123I]ADAM, a selective SERT radioligand for single photon emission tomography (SPET) imaging, was used to assess SERT availability in the midbrain and the thalamus. Results: No differences in SERT binding were evident when comparing the BN women, their unaffected co-twins and the healthy controls (p = 0.14). The healthy sisters of the BN patients and the healthy control women had similar SERT binding in both brain regions. In a post hoc subgroup analysis, the purging bulimics had higher SERT binding than the healthy women in the midbrain (p = 0.03), but not in the thalamus. Conclusion: Our finding of increased SERT binding in the midbrain in the purging BN women raises the possibility that this subgroup of bulimics might differ in serotonergic function from the non-purging ones. The similarity of the unaffected co-twins and the healthy controls doesn't support our initial assumption of a SERT-related endophenotype for BN. Due to the small sample size, our results need to be interpreted with caution and verified in a larger sample.


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