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Alteration of serotonin transporter density and activity in fibromyalgia

Laura Bazzichi1, Gino Giannaccini2, Laura Betti2, Giovanni Mascia2, Laura Fabbrini2, Paola Italiani2, Francesca De Feo2, Tiziana Giuliano1, Camillo Giacomelli2, Alessandra Rossi2, Antonio Lucacchini2* and Stefano Bombardieri1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67 - 56126 PISA Italy

2 Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Biotechnology, University of Pisa, Via Bonanno 6, 56126, Pisa, Italy

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R99  doi:10.1186/ar1982

Published: 21 June 2006


The aim of the study was to evaluate the kinetic parameters of a specific serotonin transporter (SERT) and serotonin uptake in a mentally healthy subset of patients with fibromyalgia. Platelets were obtained from 40 patients and 38 healthy controls. SERT expression and functionality were evaluated through the measurement of [3H]paroxetine binding and the [3H]serotonin uptake itself. The values of maximal membrane binding capacity (Bmax) were statistically lower in the patients than in the healthy volunteers, whereas the dissociation constant (Kd) did not show any statistically significant variations. Moreover, a decrease in the maximal uptake rate of SERT (Vmax) was demonstrated in the platelets of patients, whereas the Michaelis constant (Km) did not show any statistically significant variations. Symptom severity score (tiredness, tender points index and Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire) were negatively correlated with Bmax and with Vmax, and positively correlated with Km. A change in SERT seems to occur in fibromyalgic patients, and it seems to be related to the severity of fibromyalgic symptoms.