Intra- and Inter-individual Relationships between Central and Peripheral Serotonergic Activity in Humans:: A Serial Cerebrospinal Fluid Sampling Study

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Data are lacking concerning the longitudinal covariability and cross-sectional balance between central and peripheral 5-HIAA concentrations in humans and on the possible associations between tobacco smoking or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and CSF and plasma 5-HIAA concentrations. Using serial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood sampling, we determined the concentrations of 5-HIAA in CSF and plasma over 6 h, and examined their relationships in healthy volunteers and patients with PTSD—both smokers and nonsmokers. Patients with PTSD and healthy volunteers had very similar CSF 5-HIAA concentrations. Significant and positive correlations between CSF and plasma 5-HIAA levels were observed within individuals, but this CNS-peripheral 5-HIAA relationship was significantly reduced in smokers (nonsmokers: mean r = 0.559 ± 0.072; smokers: mean r = 0.329 ± 0.064 p < 0.038). No significant cross-sectional, interindividual correlation of mean CSF and mean plasma 5-HIAA was seen (r = 0.094). These data show that changes in CSF 5-HIAA levels within an individual over time are largely reflected in plasma 5-HIAA, albeit significantly less so in smokers. The present results therefore suggest that clinically, longitudinal determination of plasma 5-HIAA concentrations within an individual patient can be used to make inferences about relative changes in integrated CSF 5-HIAA concentrations. However, plasma 5-HIAA concentrations provide no significant information about absolute levels of the serotonin metabolite in the CSF.



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