Decreased GABA levels in anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex in panic disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jul 1;44:131-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.01.020. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Changes of various brain metabolites including γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), measured by 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), have been reported in panic disorder (PD). Deficits in GABA have been implicated in the pathophysiology of PD. Furthermore, it has been suggested that cortical metabolite changes in PD are familial. Eleven PD patients, including five with and six without a PD family history, and eight age- and gender-matched healthy controls without a family history of psychopathology were recruited. Each subject underwent MRS exams and behavioral assessments (resting visual analog anxiety level and the Panic Disorder Severity Scale). GABA was detected with a MEGA-PRESS J-editing sequence and fitted to minimize macromolecule contaminations. A significant decrease in GABA, expressed as the ratio of GABA over total creatine (GABA/tCr), was detected in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)/medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in PD patients (p<0.05), which tends to be pronounced in patients with a PD family history. No other patient/control differences in metabolites were noted in the ACC/mPFC or occipital cortex (OCC). Overall, our results indicate that deficits in GABA levels in PD patients vary by brain regions and possibly by family history status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Panic Disorder / pathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid