In Vivo Imaging of Serotonin Receptors in Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Johns Hopkins University
Investigators Name
Wong, Dean, MD, PhD

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition usually presenting in childhood manifested by multiple motor and vocal tics. The association of the chemical serotonin with the development of the symptoms of TS is suggested by several lines of evidence. 1) TS is associated with several comorbid disorders hypothesized to involve abnormalities in the way the brain uses the chemical serotonin, including obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that at least some people with TS may have imbalances in the use of serotonin by the brain. 2) Some people with TS experience a worsening or a lessening of tics when they take medications that increase serotonin in the brain. It is important to identify any abnormalities in the use of serotonin by nerve cells in the brains of people with TS because treatments might then be administered to correct the abnormalities. Therefore, we hypothesize that there is dysfunction or abnormal functioning of both serotonin receptors, (the parts of the nerve cells that combine with serotonin) and serotonin transporters (the mechanisms that move serotonin) involved in causing TS. For this study we will examine how serotonin is utilized and transported in TS and control subjects utilizing positron emission tomography (PET). PET permits imaging of brain chemistry including visualization of the parts of the living human brain that 1) move serotonin from one section of the brain to another and 2) combine with serotonin to produce a physiological effect. By studying these mechanisms in living human beings with TS, we hope to better understand these abnormalities and how to correct them. Dean F. Wong, M.D., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD Award: $39,919 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2000-2001