Basilar artery blood flow velocity changes in patients with panic disorder following 35% carbon dioxide challenge

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan 30;31(1):115-22. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2006.08.004. Epub 2006 Sep 20.


Purpose: We compared the mean basilar artery blood flow velocity (BABFV) between patients with panic disorder and healthy subjects both at rest and immediately following carbon dioxide (CO(2)) challenge, and examined the effects of treatment on BABFV.

Methods: Twenty four patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia and 12 healthy comparison subjects were studied. Visual Analog Anxiety Scale was used to evaluate the anxiogenic effect of 35% CO(2) inhalation. Mean BABFV was monitored using transcranial Doppler ultrasonography at rest and 10, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120 s after 35% CO(2) challenge both before and after four weeks treatment with paroxetine.

Results: The hemodynamic response pattern of basilar artery to CO(2) inhalation was significantly different between two groups. CO(2) rapidly triggered blood flow velocity in basilar artery amongst panic patients but not in healthy comparisons. The mean time to normalization of BABFV was significantly longer in panic patients. Four weeks of treatment with paroxetine led to a significantly reduced mean BABFV after 35% CO(2) inhalation in comparison with pretreatment.

Conclusions: Patients with panic disorder had impaired cerebral regulatory mechanisms observed as a change in response characteristics in BABFV in response to CO(2) inhalation. Treatment with paroxetine reduced the increase of BABFV seen in patients after the CO(2) challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basilar Artery / physiology*
  • Carbon Dioxide*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Panic Disorder / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Carbon Dioxide