The serotonin system is implicated in a variety of psychiatric disorders whose clinical presentation and response to treatment differ between males and females, as well as with aging. However, human neurobiological studies are limited. Sex differences in the cerebral metabolic response to an increase in serotonin concentrations were measured, as well as the effect of aging, in men compared to women. Thirty-three normal healthy individuals (14 men/19 women, age range 20-79 years) underwent two resting positron emission tomography studies with the radiotracer [18F]-2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]-FDG) after placebo and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI, citalopram) infusions on two separate days. Results indicated that women demonstrated widespread areas of increased cortical glucose metabolism with fewer areas of decrease in metabolism in response to citalopram. Men, in contrast, demonstrated several regions of decreased cortical metabolism, but no regions of increased metabolism. Age was associated with greater increases in women and greater decreases in men in most brain regions. These results support prior studies indicating that serotonin function differs in men and women across the lifespan. Future studies aimed at characterizing the influences of age and sex on the serotonin system in patients with psychiatric disorders are needed to elucidate the relationship between sex and age differences in brain chemistry and associated differences in symptom presentation and treatment response.
- Glucose metabolism
- Positron emission tomography
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Sex differences
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience