Lower synaptic density is associated with depression severity and network alterations

Nature Communications
Sophie E HolmesIrina Esterlis

Abstract

Synaptic loss and deficits in functional connectivity are hypothesized to contribute to symptoms associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) can be used to index the number of nerve terminals, an indirect estimate of synaptic density. Here, we used positron emission tomography (PET) with the SV2A radioligand [11C]UCB-J to examine synaptic density in n = 26 unmedicated individuals with MDD, PTSD, or comorbid MDD/PTSD. The severity of depressive symptoms was inversely correlated with SV2A density, and individuals with high levels of depression showing lower SV2A density compared to healthy controls (n = 21). SV2A density was also associated with aberrant network function, as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) functional connectivity. This is the first in vivo evidence linking lower synaptic density to network alterations and symptoms of depression. Our findings provide further incentive to evaluate interventions that restore synaptic connections to treat depression.

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Related Concepts

In Vivo
Biological Neural Networks
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Positron-Emission Tomography
Involutional Paraphrenia
SV2A protein, human
Glycoproteins
Synaptic Vesicles
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Nerve Endings

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