Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Background: Several lines of evidence implicate 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and suicide. However, it is unclear whether these conditions include morphological involvement of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), the origin of most forebrain 5-HT innervation. Method: We used morphometric, immunohistochemical, and molecular methods to compare the DRN in post-mortem tissue of 50 subjects (13 controls, 14 major depressive disorder [MDD], 13 bipolar disorder, 10 schizophrenia; 17 of the cases died by suicide). NeuN and PH8 antibodies were used to assess all neurons and serotonergic neurons respectively; 5-HT 1A autoreceptor expression was investigated by regional and cellular in situ hybridization. Measurements were made at three rostrocaudal levels of the DRN. Results: In MDD, the area of the DRN was decreased. In bipolar disorder, serotonergic neuronal size was decreased. Suicide was associated with an increased DRN area, and with a higher density but decreased size of serotonergic neurons. Total neuronal density and 5-HT 1A receptor mRNA abundance were unaffected by diagnosis or suicide. No changes were seen in schizophrenia. Conclusion: The results show that mood disorders and suicide are associated with differential, limited morphological alterations of the DRN. The contrasting influences of MDD and suicide may explain some of the discrepancies between previous studies, since their design precluded detection of the effect. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Affective Disorders

Publication Date





125 - 134