Length of axons expressing the serotonin transporter in orbitofrontal cortex is lower with age in depression.
Studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) in postmortem brain tissue report enhanced binding to inhibitory serotonin-1A autoreceptors in midbrain dorsal raphe and reductions in length of axons expressing the serotonin transporter (SERT) in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The length density of axons expressing SERT in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) was determined in 18 subjects with MDD and 17 age-matched control subjects. A monoclonal antibody was used to immunohistochemically label the SERT in fixed sections of OFC. The 3-dimensional length density of SERT-immunoreactive (ir) axons in layer VI of OFC was estimated. The age of subjects with MDD was negatively correlated with SERT axon length (r=-0.77, p<0.0005). The significant effect of age persisted when removing four depressed subjects with an antidepressant medication present at the time of death, or when removing nine depressed subjects that had a recent prescription for an antidepressant medication. Neither gender, tissue pH, postmortem interval, 5-HTTLPR genotype, time in fixative, nor death by suicide had a significant effect on axon length. The age-related decrease in SERT-ir axon length in MDD may reflect pathology of ascending axons passing through deep white matter hyperintensities. Greater length of axons expressing SERT in younger subjects with MDD may result in a significant deficit in serotonin availability in OFC.
Rajkowska, G; Mahajan, G; Legutko, B; Challagundla, L; Griswold, M; Albert, PR; Daigle, M; Miguel-Hidalgo, JJ; Austin, MC; Blakely, RD; Steffens, DC; Stockmeier, CA
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