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Association of thalamic serotonin transporter and interleukin-10 in bipolar I disorder: a SPECT study




The serotonin hypothesis plays a critical role in the etiology of bipolar disorder (BD). Although many studies have demonstrated reciprocal relationships between serotonin metabolism and immune-inflammatory pathways that occur in depression, studies linking serotonergic function and cytokines are still limited concerning BD. The aim of this study was to investigate the interaction of brain serotonin transporter (SERT) and cytokines in BD.


Twenty patients with euthymic BD and 20 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC) were recruited. Single photon emission computed tomography with the radiotracer 123I-ADAM was used for the SERT imaging. The specific uptake ratio, which represents SERT availability, was the primary measured outcome. Cytokines included the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10). Cytokine concentration was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


SERT availability was significantly lower in the midbrain and caudate of patients with BD compared with HC, but not in the thalamus and putamen. IL-10 was significantly higher, whereas TNF-α was not different in euthymic patients with BD compared with HC. There was a significant association of SERT availability and IL-10 in the thalamus, but not in the midbrain, caudate, or putamen.


Our results demonstrate the interaction of SERT availability and IL-10 in euthymic BD. This result may further explain the role of SERT and cytokines in the etiology of BD.

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