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Brain Imaging of Serotonin Transporters in the Brain

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: April 16, 2003
Last updated: March 3, 2008
Last verified: January 2005

Serotonin is a chemical involved in the regulation of emotions, anxiety, sleep, stress, and other body functions. The purpose of this study is to use brain imaging technology to study how serotonin works in the brain.

The serotonin transporter (SERT) regulates the release of sertonin throughout the body. Until recently, radioactive chemicals called tracers were not suitable for viewing SERT activity. However, a newly developed tracer called [11C]DASB can be used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to view the parts of the brain that use serotonin.

Participants in this study will be screened with medical and psychiatric examinations, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and blood and urine tests. This study comprises two parts. During Part 1, participants will undergo a whole-body PET scan. During Part 2, participants will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain. At the next study visit, participants will have one or two PET head scans. If not is not possible to perform both scans on the same day, an additional visit will be scheduled for the second PET scan.

Healthy Serotonin Transporter

Study Type: Observational
Official Title: Kinetic Studies in Whole Body and Brain of [11C]DASB PET Imaging of Serotonin Transporters

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 20
Study Start Date: April 2003
Estimated Study Completion Date: January 2005
Detailed Description:

The serotonin transporter (SERT) modulates the activity of the central serotonergic system and SERT is also the primary target of the widely prescribed specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Until recently, suitable radioligands for in vivo imaging of SERT have not been available. However, a recently developed PET radioligand, [11C]DASB, appears suitable for quantifying SERT in humans. In the two protocols that have been approved by the CSRP for submission to the IRB, we planned to use [11C]DASB PET to study the pathophysiology of SERT in Parkinson's disease and OCD. This protocol was created to address criticisms raised by the NIH RDRC committee and the external scientific review.

  1. The NIH RDRC (Radioactive Drug Research Committee) review of this protocol asked that we obtain human biodistribution data to confirm the expected low levels of radiation exposure, based upon our prior studies in monkeys.
  2. To address one of the criticisms raised by the CSRP review, namely 1) to quantify SERT binding parameters with [11C]DASB in up to 10 normal subjects and 2) to determine the reliability and reproducibility of SERT binding parameter measurements by performing a second retest [11C]DASB PET study in the same subjects, because such data are not available for this radioligand. PET scanning will be performed with an intravenous injection of 20 mCi of [11C]DASB for 2 h, during which multiple arterial blood samples will also be obtained. The reproducibility of SERT binding parameters will be assessed by calculating the variability as well as the intraclass correlation coefficient between test/retest measurements. We expect that 1) we can accurately quantify SERT binding parameters using [11C]DASB PET imaging and 2) [11C]DASB PET measurements of SERT binding will be reliable and reproducible.

Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes


Diagnosis: Healthy

Ages: 18-50 years


History of psychiatric disease, substance dependence or traumatic brain injury, severe systemic disease, poor vision or hearing.

History of substance abuse within 6 months

Abnormal laboratory tests, including HIV test

Any prior participation in other research protocols involving radiation exposure within the past year

Prior participation in other research protocols within the past year such that a radiation exposure together with the present study would exceed the annual limits

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding

Positive HIV test


Age: 18-50 y

Male or female

Consent given


DSM-IV Axis I diagnostic criteria such as history of, or current diagnosis ADHD, mood/anxiety disorder, alcohol or psychoactive substance abuse/dependence. All subjects must meet none of the Axis I diagnoses.

Psychotropic medication or other drugs that may cross the blood brain barrier. Drug free period must be greater than 4 weeks (antidepressants and benzodiazepine) and greater than 6 weeks (fluoxetine, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants).

Pregnancy or breastfeeding

Abnormal MRI other than minor atrophy

Abnormal laboratory tests, including HIV test


Pregnancy or breast feeding. Women with child bearing potential will a pregnancy test to exclude pregnancy

Prior participation in other research protocols within the past year such that a radiation exposure together with the present study would exceed the annual limits. Limits: A total effective dose or 5.0 rem in a year.

Any condition that increases risk for MRI (e.g., pacemaker, metallic foreign body in the eye, etc.)

Traumatic brain injury, severe systemic disease, poor vision or hearing

Major medical conditions or neurological disorders

Single radial and ulnar arterial circulation. This will be determined during physical examination (A simple wrist compression test)

Individuals who recently donated blood.

Unable to lay on one's back for PET/MRI scans. PET and MRI scans take approximately 2 and 1 hours, respectively.

Novacaine allergy - yes - Local anesthetic used for insertion of arterial and venous catheters.

Positive HIV test

  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00059046

United States, Maryland
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00059046     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 030159
Study First Received: April 16, 2003
Last Updated: March 3, 2008

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
PET Measurements
Kinetic Analysis
Healthy Volunteer

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Serotonin Receptor Agonists
Serotonin Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Physiological Effects of Drugs processed this record on September 21, 2017