Mood changes correlate to changes in brain serotonin precursor trapping in women with premenstrual dysphoria
The cardinal mood symptoms of premenstrual dysphoria can be effectively treated by serotonin-augmenting drugs. The aim of the study was to test the serotonin hypothesis of this disorder, i.e. of an association between premenstrual decline in brain serotonin function and concomitant worsening of self-rated cardinal mood symptoms. Positron emission tomography was used to assess changes in brain trapping of 11C-labeled 5-hydroxytryptophan, the immediate precursor of serotonin, in the follicular and premenstrual phases of the menstrual cycle in eight women with premenstrual dysphoria. Changes in mood and physical symptoms were assessed from daily visual analog scale ratings. Worsening of cardinal mood symptoms showed significant inverse associations with changes in brain serotonin precursor trapping; for the symptom "irritable", r(s)=-0.83, and for "depressed mood" r(s)=-0.81. Positive mood variables showed positive associations, whereas physical symptoms generally displayed weak or no associations. The data indicate strong inverse associations between worsening of cardinal symptoms of premenstrual dysphoria and brain serotonin precursor (11C-labeled 5-hydroxytryptophan) trapping. The results may in part support a role for serotonin in premenstrual dysphoria and may provide a clue to the effectiveness of serotonin-augmenting drugs in this disorder but should, due to small sample size and methodological shortcomings, be considered preliminary.
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