BACKGROUND/AIMS: Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter involved in the pathophysiology of depression and anhedonia. Dopamine transporters (DAT) may play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of dopaminergic transmission. We investigated the relationship between striatal DAT availability and depression, pointing out possible correlations with anhedonia and treatment outcomes. METHODS: Ten depressed patients with anhedonia, 10 depressed patients without anhedonia and 20 healthy controls underwent single photon emission computed tomography using (123)I-FP-CIT [(123)I-N-ω-fluoropropyl-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)tropane]. Psychometric measures included the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. A further assessment of DAT availability was performed in the 10 patients with marked anhedonia after a 3-month pharmacological treatment. RESULTS: Depressed patients with and without anhedonia showed significantly lower (123)I-FP-CIT binding ratios in the bilateral striatum, caudate and putamen. No significant changes were detected after treatment in the 10 patients with marked anhedonia. When considering clinical outcomes, subjects with remission of depression showed a significant reduction of (123)I-FP-CIT binding ratios in all regions at baseline, but after treatment no differences were found any longer. CONCLUSIONS: We suppose that a hypofunction of the striatal dopaminergic system may be a 'state' feature of a depressive condition as a whole rather than anhedonia itself. On the other hand, some anhedonic features mainly represent an enduring trait that persists independently of mood state.
- DOPAMINE TRANSPORTER