Endogenous plasma estradiol in healthy men is positively correlated with cerebral cortical serotonin 2A receptor binding

Vibe G. Frokjaer, David Erritzoe, Anders Juul, Finn Årup Nielsen, Klaus Holst, Claus Svarer, Jacob Madsen, Olaf B. Paulson, Gitte Moos Knudsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Background: Sex-hormones influence brain function and are likely to play a role in the gender predisposition to mood and anxiety disorders. Acute fluctuations of sex-hormone levels including hormonal replacement therapy appear to affect serotonergic neurotransmission, but it is unknown if baseline levels affect serotonergic neurotransmission. This study was undertaken to examine if baseline levels of endogenous sex hormones are associated with cerebral serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor binding in men. Methods: In a group of 72 healthy men (mean age 37.5 years ±17.4 SD, range 19.6–81.7) we studied the effect of plasma sex hormone levels on neocortical 5-HT2A receptor binding as imaged with [18F]altanserin PET. The effect of endogenous sex-hormone levels was evaluated by multiple linear regression analysis. Results: Mean neocortical 5-HT2A receptor binding was positively correlated with estradiol (p = 0.0001), whereas no independent effects of testosterone could be demonstrated. Correction for other factors of importance for 5-HT2A receptor binding did not change the result. A voxel-based analysis suggested that there were no regional differences in the estradiol effect on cortical 5-HT2A receptor binding. Conclusions: Our data show a positive correlation between endogenous plasma estradiol levels and cortical 5-HT2A receptor binding in healthy men, whereas, no independent effect of testosterone was demonstrated. We speculate that this association could be mediated through effects on gene transcription.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number9
    Pages (from-to)1311-1320
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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