Healthy Young and Elderly Volunteers | Effects of Intravenous (IV) Citalopram on Emotional Brain Activity in Healthy Young and Elderly Adults

Healthy Young and Elderly Volunteers research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. How antidepressants work on the brain to alter mood and behaviour is not well understood. This study will use a brain scanning technique (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to examine how aging impacts brain activation during emotional tasks after the administration of intravenous (IV) citalopram (this is the only SSRI available in this form, and is well tolerated and safe in young and old adults). The investigators will further determine what role genetic differences play in this relationship. The investigators expect to see an increase in brain signal as the concentration of IV citalopram increases. However, the investigators propose that the brain signal in older adults will not be as strong as in younger adults. Furthermore, the investigators expect that participants genetically predisposed to have fewer serotonin transporters (the site of action of SSRIs) will show greater decreases in brain activation with citalopram.

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: - Male aged 60 or older (elderly group) - Male aged 20-40 (younger adult group) - English speaking - Right-handed - Non-smoker - Score of 27 or greater on the Mini Mental State Exam Exclusion Criteria: - Unstable medical, cardiac, or neurological illness (including stroke, brain tumour, epilepsy, significant head injury, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease) - Laboratory results indicating unanticipated illness or intolerability of blood drawing procedures or of study drug - Current or lifetime Axis-I psychiatric diagnosis on the DSM-IV/SCID (i.e., Module A: Mood, Module F: Anxiety, Module B including history of SSRI-related syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) or sinus bradycardia on ECG (less than 50 beats per minute) - Contraindication to MRI (as per MRI Contraindication Screening Form)

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Healthy Young and Elderly Volunteers

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Drug:Intravenous CitalopramSingle dose of 20mg parenteral citalopram diluted in 250mL of 0.9% sodium chloride solution, infused over 30 minutes

Drug:Normal SalineSingle dose of 250mL of 0.9% sodium chloride solution, infused over 30 minutes

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Intravenous Citalopram

Normal Saline250mL of 0.9% Sodium Chloride Solution

Study Status


Start Date: April 2009

Completed Date: March 2016

Phase: N/A

Type: Interventional


Primary Outcome: BOLD fMRI Response

Secondary Outcome: Genetics and Cognitive/Emotional Change

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: Bruce G Pollock, MD PhD FRCPC

Lead Sponsor: Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest

Collaborator: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

More information:

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