PloS one

Season of sampling and season of birth influence serotonin metabolite levels in human cerebrospinal fluid.

PMID 22312427


Animal studies have revealed seasonal patterns in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) monoamine (MA) turnover. In humans, no study had systematically assessed seasonal patterns in CSF MA turnover in a large set of healthy adults. Standardized amounts of CSF were prospectively collected from 223 healthy individuals undergoing spinal anesthesia for minor surgical procedures. The metabolites of serotonin (5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, 5-HIAA), dopamine (homovanillic acid, HVA) and norepinephrine (3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, MPHG) were measured using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Concentration measurements by sampling and birth dates were modeled using a non-linear quantile cosine function and locally weighted scatterplot smoothing (LOESS, span = 0.75). The cosine model showed a unimodal season of sampling 5-HIAA zenith in April and a nadir in October (p-value of the amplitude of the cosine = 0.00050), with predicted maximum (PC(max)) and minimum (PC(min)) concentrations of 173 and 108 nmol/L, respectively, implying a 60% increase from trough to peak. Season of birth showed a unimodal 5-HIAA zenith in May and a nadir in November (p = 0.00339; PC(max) = 172 and PC(min) = 126). The non-parametric LOESS showed a similar pattern to the cosine in both season of sampling and season of birth models, validating the cosine model. A final model including both sampling and birth months demonstrated that both sampling and birth seasons were independent predictors of 5-HIAA concentrations. In subjects without mental illness, 5-HT turnover shows circannual variation by season of sampling as well as season of birth, with peaks in spring and troughs in fall.