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J Psychiatr Res. 2009 Jan;43(4):393-400. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.04.010. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

Impact of loudness dependency of auditory evoked potentials on the panic response to CCK-4.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Nussbaumstrasse 7, 80336 Munich, Germany.



Experimental panic induction with cholecystokinin-tetrapeptide (CCK-4) has been established as a model to study the pathophysiology of panic disorder. In line with the serotonin (5-HT)-hypothesis of panic disorder it has been suggested that the panicogenic effects of CCK-4 are mediated in part through the 5-HT system. The analysis of the loudness dependency of the auditory evoked potentials (LDAEP) is a valid non-invasive indicator of central serotonergic activity.


We investigated the correlation between LDAEP and behavioral, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine panic responses to CCK-4in 77 healthy volunteers and explored whether differences in LDAEP paralleled subjective panic severity. Behavioral panic responses were measured with the panic symptom scale (PSS). Heart rate and ACTH/cortisol plasma concentrations were assessed concomitantly.


LDAEP did not differ between panickers and nonpanickers. Furthermore, LDAEP did not correlate with the behavioral panic response. However, a significant positive correlation between LDAEP and CCK-4 induced HPA-axis activation, which was uniform in panickers and nonpanickers, could be detected.


The psychological effects of CCK-4 rather are mediated by neurotransmitters others than the endogenous 5-HT system. However, the extent of the neuroendocrine activation related to the CCK-4 panic provocation was correlated with the LDAEP, thereby suggesting that central 5-HT mechanisms are involved in the HPA-axis activation during this challenge paradigm.

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