Evidence that decreased function of lymphocyte β adrenoreceptors reflects regulatory and adaptive processes in panic disorder with agoraphobia

Richard J Maddock, Cameron S Carter, Joseph R. Magliozzi, Dorothy W. Gietzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective: This study was designed to clarify the nature of the reduced function of the peripheral β adrenoreceptor system observed in panic disorder with agoraphobia. The authors hypothesized that this phenomenon reflected a regulatory and adaptive process. Method: Lymphocyte β adrenoreceptor density and affinity, basal lymphocyte cAMP level, and isoproterenol-stimulated cAMP generation were measured in 27 untreated outpatients with panic disorder with agoraphobia and 24 healthy comparison subjects. Lymphocyte β receptor attributes were again assessed in patients after 4 weeks of double-blind treatment with adinazolam (slow-release form) or placebo. Panic frequency, agoraphobic symptoms, overall anxiety, and improvement with treatment were assessed with standard rating instruments. Results: Multivariate statistics revealed significantly lower β receptor density and isoproterenol-stimulated cAMP generation in patients than in comparison subjects, β receptor density tended to normalize after adinazolam but not after placebo. Pretreatment β receptor density was lower in treatment responders than nonresponders. Patients with mild agoraphobia had lower cAMP responsivity than patients with moderate or severe agoraphobia. Conclusions: Decreased function of lymphocyte β receptors in panic disorder with agoraphobia is expressed as both decreased density and decreased cAMP responsivity. This pattern of changes, and the tendency for receptor density to normalize with treatment, is consistent with an active, regulatory process rather than a structural deficit in the β receptor system. Preliminary clinical findings suggest that these changes may reflect adaptive processes associated with a favorable clinical course in panic disorder with agoraphobia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1225
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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