by Tom Jenkins
Molecular fMRI of serotonin transport by Hai et al, Neuron 2016:92;1-12.
The authors developed a sensor molecule to detect serotonin, injected it into rat striatum and scanned the rodents for 2 hours in a 9.4T magnet with 200 micron in-plane resolution to track the dynamics of reuptake of serotonin and the influence of drugs. They were able to localise areas of serotonin reuptake with extremely precise anatomical resolution and show differential effects of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine, and also a less specific dopamine reuptake blocker. Their results improve our understanding of the mechanisms of antidepressant drugs and provide new insights into serotonin neurobiology, thought to be important clinically in mood and reward systems. The invasive method of drug delivery and prolonged scan times at high field strength remain barriers to clinical utility, but the molecular functional MRI approach represents an important paradigm for investigating psychoactive medications in animal models with wide-ranging potential future applications.
Dr Tom Jenkins, London, UK, associate editor EAN e-communication board