Pentagastrin infusions in patients with panic disorder I. Symptoms and cardiovascular responses

James L. Abelson, Randolph M. Nesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Cholecystokinin (CCK) may mediate human anxiety and animal data suggest that cholecystokinin antagonists could provide an important advance in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The study of CCK receptor systems in psychiatric patients has, however, been severely limited by the lack of available probes. We utilized intravenous infusions of pentagastrin, a selective CCK-B receptor agonist, and studied behavioral and cardiovascular responses in 10 patients with panic disorder and 10 normal controls. Pentagastrin produced substantial symptomatology, including anxiety, and increases in heart rate and blood pressure, in both patients and controls. Patients were more sensitive to the panicogenic effects of the pentagastrin. Panic attacks occurred in 70% of patients and 0% of controls. Patients' symptom responses were very similar to their "typical" panic attacks and to symptoms produced by CCK4. Pentagastrin provides a readily available alternative to CCK4 for studying the CCK receptor system and exploring its involvement in human anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Pentagastrin
  • blood pressure
  • cholecystokinin
  • heart rate
  • panic disorder
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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