The Relationship of Serotonin to Depression in Parkinson's Disease

Mayeux, Richard Paul; Stern, Yaakov; Sano, Mary; Williams, Janet B. W.; Cote, Lucien J.

We have previously reported a correlation between depression in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease and decreased concentrations of the cerebrospinal fluid content of the serotonin metabolite, 5-HIAA. To further examine this relationship, we repeated the study in a new cohort of patients while they remained on dopaminergic medications, conducted follow-up interviews and examinations in our original cohort, and conducted an open trial of the serotonin precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan in a group of new patients with depression. We were again able to demonstrate a significant reduction in cerebrospinal 5-HIAA in depressed patients in comparison to controls and patients without depression. Demented patients with Parkinson's disease, particularly those with concurrent depression, had the lowest values of 5-HIAA. No new cases of depression occurred in our orignial cohort after 21/2 years of follow-up, and depression remitted following conventional or experimental treatment in four patients. Depression improved in six of the seven new patients following oral 5-hydroxytryptophan. Three of these patients allowed a repeat lumbar puncture, and the concentration of 5-HIAA increased following 5-hydroxytryptophan. These three studies support our hypothesis that depression in idiopathic Parkinson's disease is associated with a reduction in brain serotonin. However, it also suggests that other factors, biological or environmental, may be causal factors.


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February 24, 2018