Serotonin Transporter Dysregulation in Depression

Robert Y. Moore

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Grant Program:

David Mahoney Neuroimaging Program

Funded in:

January 1996, for 4 years

Funding Amount:


Investigator Biographies

Robert Y. Moore

Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh



The pathophysiology of depression is characterized by alterations in the function of the serotonin transporter, which can be elucidated using positron emission tomography (PET).

To validate the use of a new PET ligand for the serotonin transporter and apply it to a preliminary study of transporter binding in untreated, newly-diagnosed patients with unipolar depression in comparison to controls.

The PET imaging was performed using a Siemens/CTI ECAT HR+ tomograph in the 3D mode using the serotonin transporter ligand, [11C]McN5652, with a region of interest analysis that included the raphe nuclei and multiple cortical areas. Results: There is a reduction of binding to the serotonin transporter in all areas analyzed, including the cell body area of the raphe and terminal areas in the cerebral cortex.

Follow-on Funding:

NIH MH-61566 Sleep-Guided PET Studies in Depression 2/1/01-1/31/05 $1,000,000

Pittsburgh Foundation PET Studies of Depression in Parkinson's Disease 1/1/99-6/30/02 $150,000

Selected Publications

Meltzer C.C., Smith G., DeKosky S.T., Pollock B.G., Mathis C.A., Moore R.Y., Kupfer D.J., and Reynolds C.F. III. Serotonin in aging, late-life depression and Alzheimer’s disease: the emerging role of functional imaging.  Neuropsychopharmacology. 1998 Jun;18(6):407-30 .

Nofzinger E.A., Nichols T.E., Meltzer C.C., Price J., Steppe D.A., Miewald J.M., Kupfer D.J., Moore R.Y. Changes in forebrain function from waking to REM sleep in depression: preliminary analysis of [18F] DG PET studies. Psychiatry Res. 1999 Aug 31;91(2):59-78.