Molecular imaging of the association between serotonin degeneration and beta-amyloid deposition in mild cognitive impairment

Gwenn S. Smith, Hillary Protas, Hiroto Kuwabara, Alena Savonenko, Najlla Nassery, Neda F. Gould, Michael Kraut, Dimitri Avramopoulos, Daniel Holt, Robert F. Dannals, Ayon Nandi, Yi Su, Eric M. Reiman, Kewei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Degeneration of the serotonin system has been observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In transgenic amyloid mouse models, serotonin degeneration is detected prior to widespread cortical beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposition, also suggesting that serotonin degeneration may be observed in preclinical AD. Methods: The differences in the distribution of serotonin degeneration (reflected by the loss of the serotonin transporter, 5-HTT) relative to Aβ deposition was measured with positron emission tomography in a group of individuals with MCI and a group of healthy older adults. A multi-modal partial least squares (mmPLS) algorithm was applied to identify the spatial covariance pattern between 5-HTT availability and Aβ deposition. Results: Forty-five individuals with MCI and 35 healthy older adults were studied, 22 and 27 of whom were included in the analyses who were “amyloid positive” and “amyloid negative”, respectively. A pattern of lower cortical, subcortical and limbic 5-HTT availability and higher cortical Aβ deposition distinguished the MCI from the healthy older control participants. Greater expression of this pattern was correlated with greater deficits in memory and executive function in the MCI group, not in the control group. Conclusion: A spatial covariance pattern of lower 5-HTT availability and Aβ deposition was observed to a greater extent in an MCI group relative to a control group and was associated with cognitive impairment in the MCI group. The results support the application of mmPLS to understand the neurochemical changes associated with Aβ deposition in the course of preclinical AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103322
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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