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Reduced Serotonin-1A Receptor Binding in Social Anxiety Disorder

Published:September 18, 2006DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.05.022

      Background

      Results from studies in serotonin-1A (5-HT1A) knockout mice and previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies in humans imply a role for 5-HT1A receptors in normal state anxiety as well as in certain anxiety disorders. The objective of this study was to investigate 5-HT1A receptor binding potential (BP) in social anxiety disorder (SAD).

      Methods

      Using PET and [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635, we compared a homogeneous group of 12 unmedicated, male SAD patients with 18 healthy control subjects (HC). A multivariate ANOVA with all regional BP values as dependent variables, age and four radiochemical variables as covariates was performed.

      Results

      We found a significantly lower 5-HT1A BP in several limbic and paralimbic areas but not in the hippocampus (p = .234) of SAD patients. The difference in 5-HT1A binding was most significant in the amygdala (−21.4%; p = .003). There was also a more than 20% lower 5-HT1A BP of SAD patients in the anterior cingulate cortex (p = .004), insula (p = .003), and dorsal raphe nuclei (p = .030).

      Conclusions

      The lower 5-HT1A binding in the amygdala and mesiofrontal areas of SAD patients is consistent with 1) preclinical findings of elevated anxiety in 5-HT1A knockout mice, 2) a previous PET study in healthy volunteers showing an inverse correlation between 5-HT1A BP and state anxiety, and 3) another human PET study in patients with panic disorder showing reduced 5-HT1A binding, thus corroborating the potential validity of 5-HT1A receptors as targets in the treatment of human anxiety disorders.

      Key Words

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