Baseline plasma serotonin levels tied to SSRI response

  • J Affect Disord

  • von Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and higher baseline plasma serotonin (5-HT) levels had a better therapeutic response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment than those with lower levels.
  • A larger decrease in plasma 5-HT during treatment was associated with a better SSRI response.

Why this matters

  • Previous studies on the association between baseline plasma 5-HT and response to SSRIs yielded conflicting results.

  Study design

  • Study included 37 patients with MDD and 41 healthy controls with plasma 5-HT levels assessed at baseline.
  • 26 of 37 patients with MDD underwent 8 weeks of open-label outpatient treatment with SSRI antidepressant sertraline, after which plasma 5-HT levels were measured again.
  • Treatment response of ≥50% and
  • Funding: National Institute of Mental Health.

Key results

  • Sertraline treatment responders (P=.036) and healthy controls (P=.004) had significantly higher baseline plasma 5-HT levels vs nonresponders.
  • SSRI treatment was associated with a significant decrease in plasma 5-HT among all patients treated for MDD (t, 6.2; P=.000003).
  • Decrease in plasma 5-HT levels over treatment was significantly more prominent in sertraline treatment responders vs nonresponders (t, 2.1; P=.047).

Limitations

  • Small study population.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD