Serotonin Modulation of Cerebral Glucose Metabolism in Depressed Older Adults

Gwenn S. Smith, Elisse Kramer, Carol Hermann, Yilong Ma, Vijay Dhawan, Thomas Chaly, David Eidelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: Monoamine dysfunction, particularly of the serotonin system, has been the dominant hypothesis guiding research and treatment development in affective disorders. The majority of research has been performed in midlife depressed adults. The importance of understanding the neurobiology of depression in older adults is underscored by increased rates of mortality and completed suicide and an increased risk of Alzheimer's dementia. To evaluate the dynamic response of the serotonin system, the acute effects of citalopram infusion on cerebral glucose metabolism was measured in depressed older adults and control subjects. The hypothesis was tested that smaller decreases in metabolism would be observed in cortical and limbic regions in depressed older adults relative to control subjects. Methods: Sixteen depressed older adults and 13 control subjects underwent two resting positron emission tomography (PET) studies with the radiotracer [18F]-2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose after placebo and citalopram infusions. Results: In control subjects compared with depressed older adults, greater citalopram-induced decreases in cerebral metabolism were observed in the right anterior cingulate, middle temporal (bilaterally), left precuneus, and left parahippocampal gyri. Greater decreases in the depressed older adults than control subjects were observed in left superior and left middle frontal gyri and increases in left inferior parietal lobule, left cuneus, left thalamus, and right putamen. Conclusions: In depressed older adults relative to control subjects, the cerebral metabolic response to citalopram is blunted in cortico-cortical and cortico-limbic pathways and increased in the left hemisphere (greater decrease interiorly and increases posteriorly). These findings suggest both blunted and compensatory cerebral metabolic responses to citalopram in depressed older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • citalopram
  • depression
  • glucose metabolism
  • positron emission tomography (PET)
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Serotonin Modulation of Cerebral Glucose Metabolism in Depressed Older Adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this