Chronic immobilization stress occludes in vivo cortical activation in an animal model of panic induced by carbon dioxide inhalation.
ABSTRACT: Breathing high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) can trigger panic and anxiety in humans. CO2 inhalation has been hypothesized to activate neural systems similar to those underlying fear learning, especially those involving the amygdala. Amygdala activity is also upregulated by stress. Recently, however, a separate pathway has been proposed for interoceptive panic and anxiety signals, as patients exhibited CO2-inhalation induced panic responses despite bilateral lesions of the amygdala. This paradoxical observation has raised the possibility that cortical circuits may underlie these responses. We sought to examine these divergent models by comparing in vivo brain activation in unstressed and chronically-stressed rats breathing CO2. Regional cerebral blood flow measurements using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in lightly-anaesthetized rats showed especially strong activation of the somatosensory cortex by CO2 inhalation in the unstressed group. Strikingly, prior exposure to chronic stress occluded this effect on cortical activity. This lends support to recent clinical observations and highlights the importance of looking beyond the traditional focus on limbic structures, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, to investigate a role for cortical areas in panic and anxiety in humans.
Project description:Self-reported anxiety, and potentially physiological response, to maintained inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2) enriched air shows promise as a putative marker of panic reactivity and vulnerability. Temporal stability of response systems during low-dose, steady-state CO2 breathing challenge is lacking. Outcomes on multiple levels were measured two times, one week apart, in 93 individuals. Stability was highest during the CO2 breathing phase compared to pre-CO2 and recovery phases, with anxiety ratings, respiratory rate, skin conductance level, and heart rate demonstrating good to excellent temporal stability (ICCs?0.71). Cognitive symptoms tied to panic were somewhat less stable (ICC=0.58) than physical symptoms (ICC=0.74) during CO2 breathing. Escape/avoidance behaviors and DSM-5 panic attacks were not stable. Large effect sizes between task phases also were observed. Overall, results suggest good-excellent levels of temporal stability for multiple outcomes during respiratory stimulation via 7.5% CO2.
Project description:Orexin neurons originating in the perifornical and lateral hypothalamic area project to anxiety- and panic-associated neural circuitry, and are highly reactive to anxiogenic stimuli. Preclinical evidence suggests that the orexin system, and particularly the orexin-1 receptor (OX1R), may be involved in the pathophysiology of panic and anxiety. Selective OX1R antagonists thus may constitute a potential new treatment strategy for panic- and anxiety-related disorders. Here, we characterized a novel selective OX1R antagonist, JNJ-61393215, and determined its affinity and potency for human and rat OX1R in vitro. We also evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic properties of JNJ-61393215 in first-in-human single- and multiple-ascending dose studies conducted. Finally, the potential anxiolytic effects of JNJ-61393215 were evaluated both in rats and in healthy men using 35% CO2 inhalation challenge to induce panic symptoms. In the rat CO2 model of panic anxiety, JNJ-61393215 demonstrated dose-dependent attenuation of CO2-induced panic-like behavior without altering baseline locomotor or autonomic activity, and had minimal effect on spontaneous sleep. In phase-1 human studies, JNJ-61393215 at 90?mg demonstrated significant reduction (P?<?0.02) in CO2-induced fear and anxiety symptoms that were comparable to those obtained using alprazolam. The most frequently reported adverse events were somnolence and headache, and all events were mild in severity. These results support the safety, tolerability, and anxiolytic effects of JNJ-61393215, and validate CO2 exposure as a translational cross-species experimental model to evaluate the therapeutic potential of novel anxiolytic drugs.
Project description:Panic disorder (PD), a complex anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent panic attacks, represents a poorly understood psychiatric condition which is associated with significant morbidity and an increased risk of suicide attempts and completed suicide. Recently however, neuroimaging and panic provocation challenge studies have provided insights into the pathoetiology of panic phenomena and have begun to elucidate potential neural mechanisms that may underlie panic attacks. In this regard, accumulating evidence suggests that acidosis may be a contributing factor in induction of panic. Challenge studies in patients with PD reveal that panic attacks may be reliably provoked by agents that lead to acid-base dysbalance such as CO2 inhalation and sodium lactate infusion. Chemosensory mechanisms that translate pH into panic-relevant fear, autonomic, and respiratory responses are therefore of high relevance to the understanding of panic pathophysiology. Herein, we provide a current update on clinical and preclinical studies supporting how acid-base imbalance and diverse chemosensory mechanisms may be associated with PD and discuss future implications of these findings.
Project description:Decades of research have highlighted the amygdala's influential role in fear. We found that inhalation of 35% CO(2) evoked not only fear, but also panic attacks, in three rare patients with bilateral amygdala damage. These results indicate that the amygdala is not required for fear and panic, and make an important distinction between fear triggered by external threats from the environment versus fear triggered internally by CO(2).
Project description:Although breathing CO2-enriched air reliably increases anxiety, there is debate concerning the nature and specificity of CO2 hypersensitivity to panic risk and panic disorder versus anxiety disorders and related traits broadly, particularly among adolescents and emerging adults. The present study sought to clarify the association of CO2 hypersensitivity with internalizing conditions and symptoms among adolescents and young adults. Participants (N = 628) self-reported anxiety levels every 2 min while breathing air enriched to 7.5% CO2 for 8 min. Growth mixture models were used to examine the structure of anxiety trajectories during the task and the association of each trajectory with dimensional and diagnostic assessments of internalizing disorders. Three distinct trajectories emerged: overall low (low), overall high (high), and acutely increased anxiety (acute). Compared to the low class, the acute class reported elevated neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity, and stress whereas the high class reported elevated anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity, and increased likelihood of an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Moreover, the acute and high classes reported experiencing a panic-like event at a higher rate than the low class while participants in the high class terminated the task prematurely at a higher rate. The present study clarifies the nature of response to CO2 challenge. Three distinct response profiles emerged, which clarifies the manifestation of CO2 hypersensitivity in anxiety disorders with strong, though not unique, associations with panic-relevant traits.
Project description:Panic disorder is characterized by sudden, repeated, and unexpected attacks of intense fear and overwhelming anxiety about when another attack may strike. Patients with panic disorder and healthy individuals with a history of panic attacks show a hypersensitivity to unpredictable threats, suggesting a possible link between panic and sustained anxiety. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which induced symptoms of panic relate to fear and anxiety, as well as activity in the neural systems that mediate and regulate these affective states. Psychological and physiological symptoms of panic were assessed during an 8-min 7.5% CO2 challenge task. Psychological, physiological, and neural symptoms of fear and anxiety were measured during two sessions (one psychophysiology and one functional magnetic resonance imaging where subjects experienced several blocks of no threat (N), predictable shock (P), and unpredictable shock (U; NPU threat task). We used a principle component analysis to characterize panic susceptibility (PS), and found that PS significantly predicted dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) activity to the unpredictable cue during the NPU threat task. When examining the weighted beta coefficients from this analysis, we observed that self-reported fear/anxiety during the CO2 challenge negatively loaded onto dlPFC activity during the NPU task. Consistent with this observation, dlPFC activity during the unpredictable cue was also negatively correlated with anxiety during the NPU sessions. Together, these results suggest that panic symptoms and anxiety are regulated by the same prefrontal cognitive control system.
Project description:Panic disorder is a severe anxiety disorder characterized by susceptibility to induction of panic attacks by subthreshold interoceptive stimuli such as 0.5 M sodium lactate infusions. Although studied for four decades, the mechanism of lactate sensitivity in panic disorder has not been understood. The dorsomedial hypothalamus/perifornical region (DMH/PeF) coordinates rapid mobilization of behavioral, autonomic, respiratory and endocrine responses to stress, and rats with disrupted GABA inhibition in the DMH/PeF exhibit panic-like responses to lactate, similar to panic disorder patients. Utilizing a variety of anatomical and pharmacological methods, we provide evidence that lactate, via osmosensitive periventricular pathways, activates neurons in the compromised DMH/PeF, which relays this signal to forebrain limbic structures such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis to mediate anxiety responses, and specific brainstem sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways to mediate the respiratory and cardiovascular components of the panic-like response. Acutely restoring local GABAergic tone in the DMH/PeF blocked lactate-induced panic-like responses. Autonomic panic-like responses appear to be a result of DMH/PeF-mediated mobilization of sympathetic responses (verified with atenolol) and resetting of the parasympathetically mediated baroreflex. Based on our findings, DMH/PeF efferent targets such as the C1 adrenergic neurons, paraventricular hypothalamus, and the central amygdala are implicated in sympathetic mobilization; the nucleus of the solitary tract is implicated in baroreflex resetting; and the parabrachial nucleus is implicated in respiratory responses. These results elucidate neural circuits underlying lactate-induced panic-like responses and the involvement of both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
Project description:Although the neurobiological mechanisms underlying panic disorder (PD) are not yet clearly understood, increasing amount of evidence from animal and human studies suggests that the amygdala, which plays a pivotal role in neural network of fear and anxiety, has an important role in the pathogenesis of PD. This article aims to (1) review the findings of structural, chemical, and functional neuroimaging studies on PD, (2) relate the amygdala to panic attacks and PD development, (3) discuss the possible causes of amygdalar abnormalities in PD, (4) and suggest directions for future research.
Project description:Hyperventilation following transient, CO2-induced acidosis is ubiquitous in mammals and heritable. In humans, respiratory and emotional hypersensitivity to CO2 marks separation anxiety and panic disorders, and is enhanced by early-life adversities. Mice exposed to the repeated cross-fostering paradigm (RCF) of interference with maternal environment show heightened separation anxiety and hyperventilation to 6% CO2-enriched air. Gene-environment interactions affect CO2 hypersensitivity in both humans and mice. We therefore hypothesised that epigenetic modifications and increased expression of genes involved in pH-detection could explain these relationships. Medullae oblongata of RCF- and normally-reared female outbred mice were assessed by ChIP-seq for H3Ac, H3K4me3, H3K27me3 histone modifications, and by SAGE for differential gene expression. Integration of multiple experiments by network analysis revealed an active component of 148 genes pointing to the mTOR signalling pathway and nociception. Among these genes, Asic1 showed heightened mRNA expression, coherent with RCF-mice's respiratory hypersensitivity to CO2 and altered nociception. Functional enrichment and mRNA transcript analyses yielded a consistent picture of enhancement for several genes affecting chemoception, neurodevelopment, and emotionality. Particularly, results with Asic1 support recent human findings with panic and CO2 responses, and provide new perspectives on how early adversities and genes interplay to affect key components of panic and related disorders.
Project description:Multiple lines of evidence implicate brain serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) system dysfunction in the pathophysiology of stressor-related and anxiety disorders. Here we investigate the influence of constitutively deficient 5-HT synthesis on stressor-related anxiety-like behaviors using Tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2) mutant mice. Functional assessment of c-Fos after associated foot shock, electrophysiological recordings of GABAergic synaptic transmission, differential expression of the Slc6a4 gene in serotonergic neurons were combined with locomotor and anxiety-like measurements in different contextual settings. Our findings indicate that constitutive Tph2 inactivation and consequential lack of 5-HT synthesis in Tph2 null mutant mice (Tph2-/-) results in increased freezing to associated foot shock and a differential c-Fos activity pattern in the basolateral complex of the amygdala. This is accompanied by altered GABAergic transmission as observed by recordings of inhibitory postsynaptic currents on principal neurons in the basolateral nucleus, which may explain increased fear associated with hyperlocomotion and escape-like responses in aversive inescapable contexts. In contrast, lifelong 5-HT deficiency as observed in Tph2 heterozygous mice (Tph+/-) is able to be compensated through reduced GABAergic transmission in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala based on Slc6a4 mRNA upregulation in subdivisions of dorsal raphe neurons. This results in increased activity of the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala due to associated foot shock. In conclusion, our results reflect characteristic syndromal dimensions of panic disorder and agoraphobia. Thus, constitutive lack of 5-HT synthesis influence the risk for anxiety- and stressor-related disorders including panic disorder and comorbid agoraphobia through the absence of GABAergic-dependent compensatory mechanisms in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala.