The impact of HF-rTMS treatment on Serotonin 2A receptors in unipolar melancholic depression

Chris Baeken, Rudi De Raedt, Axel Bossuyt, C. Van Hove, John Mertens, André Dobbeleir, P. Blanckaert, I. Goethals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Currently, the underlying neurobiological mechanism as to how repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can alter depressive states remains unclear. Animal data suggest that its influence could occur at the neurotransmitter level, such as modulation of the serotonin system.

METHODS: Twenty-one antidepressant-free medication-resistant unipolar depressed patients, and 21 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects were studied. We examined the neurobiologic impact of 10 high-frequent (HF)-rTMS sessions applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on postsynaptic 5-HT(2A) receptor binding indices (BI) measured with ¹²³I-5-I-R91150 single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) only in patients.

RESULTS: Compared with the control group, patients displayed significantly less bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortical and significantly higher left hippocampal baseline 5-HT(2A) receptor BI. Successful HF-rTMS treatment correlated positively with 5-HT(2A) receptor BI in the DLPFC bilaterally and correlated negatively with right hippocampal 5-HT(2A) receptor uptake values.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that HF-rTMS treatment affect the serotonergic system. Our data also suggest that this kind of treatment affects 5-HT(2A) receptor BI in the DLPFC and in the hippocampus in different ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Stimul
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • HF-rTMS
  • treatment
  • Unipolar depression
  • Serotonin 2A receptor
  • Serotonin
  • depression


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