Objective: This study was undertaken to clarify earlier inconsistent findings in brain metabolic topography in panic disorder patients at rest.
Method: Positron emission tomography (PET) with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose was used to determine cerebral metabolic activity in six female patients with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of panic disorder and in six healthy female volunteers. All patients with panic disorder were medication free and were sensitive to lactate infusion.
Results: A significant increase in glucose metabolism was found in the left hippocampus and parahippocampal area of the panic disorder subjects in comparison with that found in the healthy subjects. In addition, a significant decrease in metabolism was found in the right inferior parietal and right superior temporal brain regions of the panic disorder subjects in comparison with that of the normal subjects. There was no significant correlation between scores for the severity of panic disorder or for the severity of lactate-induced panic attack and the quantified PET abnormality.
Conclusions: These data provide further support for the hypothesis of an abnormal brain metabolism in the hippocampal and parahippocampal area in individuals with panic disorder and also suggest other areas of aberrant brain metabolism in this disorder.