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Expectancy effects on serotonin and dopamine transporters during SSRI treatment of social anxiety disorder: a randomized clinical trial
Uppsala Univ, Sweden.
Uppsala Univ, Sweden; Uppsala Univ, Sweden.
Uppsala Univ, Sweden; Uppsala Univ, Sweden.
Uppsala Univ, Sweden.
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2021 (English)In: Translational Psychiatry, E-ISSN 2158-3188, Vol. 11, no 1, article id 559Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It has been extensively debated whether selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are more efficacious than placebo in affective disorders, and it is not fully understood how SSRIs exert their beneficial effects. Along with serotonin transporter blockade, altered dopamine signaling and psychological factors may contribute. In this randomized clinical trial of participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD) we investigated how manipulation of verbally-induced expectancies, vital for placebo response, affect brain monoamine transporters and symptom improvement during SSRI treatment. Twenty-seven participants with SAD (17 men, 10 women), were randomized, to 9 weeks of overt or covert treatment with escitalopram 20 mg. The overt group received correct treatment information whereas the covert group was treated deceptively with escitalopram, described as an active placebo in a cover story. Before and after treatment, patients underwent positron emission tomography (PET) assessments with the [C-11]DASB and [C-11]PE2I radiotracers, probing brain serotonin (SERT) and dopamine (DAT) transporters. SAD symptoms were measured by the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. Overt was superior to covert SSRI treatment, resulting in almost a fourfold higher rate of responders. PET results showed that SERT occupancy after treatment was unrelated to anxiety reduction and equally high in both groups. In contrast, DAT binding decreased in the right putamen, pallidum, and the left thalamus with overt SSRI treatment, and increased with covert treatment, resulting in significant group differences. DAT binding potential changes in these regions correlated negatively with symptom improvement. Findings support that the anxiolytic effects of SSRIs involve psychological factors contingent on dopaminergic neurotransmission while serotonin transporter blockade alone is insufficient for clinical response.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature , 2021. Vol. 11, no 1, article id 559
National Category
Psychiatry
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URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-181039DOI: 10.1038/s41398-021-01682-3ISI: 000714361700002PubMedID: 34732695OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-181039DiVA, id: diva2:1612279
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Research CouncilSwedish Research CouncilEuropean Commission; Riksbankens Jubileumsfond-the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences; Kjell and Marta Beijer Foundation

Available from: 2021-11-17 Created: 2021-11-17 Last updated: 2024-01-17

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Reis, Margareta
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