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Brain Res. 2011 Jun 17;1396:54-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.04.042. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

Interaction between δ opioid receptors and benzodiazepines in CO₂-induced respiratory responses in mice.

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  • 1Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, USA.


The false-suffocation hypothesis of panic disorder (Klein, 1993) suggested δ-opioid receptors as a possible source of the respiratory dysfunction manifested in panic attacks occurring in panic disorder (Preter and Klein, 2008). This study sought to determine if a lack of δ-opioid receptors in a mouse model affects respiratory response to elevated CO₂, and whether the response is modulated by benzodiazepines, which are widely used to treat panic disorder. In a whole-body plethysmograph, respiratory responses to 5% CO₂ were compared between δ-opioid receptor knockout mice and wild-type mice after saline, diazepam (1mg/kg), and alprazolam (0.3mg/kg) injections. The results show that lack of δ-opioid receptors does not affect normal response to elevated CO₂, but does prevent benzodiazepines from modulating that response. Thus, in the presence of benzodiazepine agonists, respiratory responses to elevated CO₂ were enhanced in δ-opioid receptor knockout mice compared to wild-type mice. This suggests an interplay between benzodiazepine receptors and δ-opioid receptors in regulating the respiratory effects of elevated CO₂, which might be related to CO₂ induced panic.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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