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Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb 1;65(3):273-5. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.06.023. Epub 2008 Aug 9.

Prefrontal cortical gamma-aminobutyric Acid levels in panic disorder determined by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



Panic disorder (PD) is hypothesized to be associated with altered function of the major inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Previous proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies found lower GABA concentrations in the occipital cortex of subjects with PD relative to healthy control subjects. The current study is the first MRS study to compare GABA concentrations between unmedicated PD subjects and control subjects in the prefrontal cortex (PFC).


Unmedicated subjects with PD (n = 17) and age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects (n = 17) were scanned on a 3 Tesla scanner using a transmit-receive head coil that provided a sufficiently homogenous radiofrequency field to obtain spectroscopic measurements in the dorsomedial/dorsal anterolateral and ventromedial areas of the PFC.


The prefrontal cortical GABA concentrations did not differ significantly between PD subjects and control subjects. There also was no statistically significant difference in glutamate/glutamine (Glx), choline, or N-acetyl aspartate concentrations.


The previously reported finding of reduced GABA concentrations in the occipital cortex of PD subjects does not appear to extend to the PFC.

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