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Candidate gene study of eight GABAA receptor subunits in panic disorder
Am J Psychiatry 1997;154:1096-1100.
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OBJECTIVE: gamma-Aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor subunit genes are candidate genes for panic disorder. Benzodiazepine agonists acting at this receptor can suppress panic attacks, and both inverse agonists and antagonists can precipitate them. The human GABAA receptor subtypes are composed of various combinations of 13 subunits, each encoded by a unique gene. The authors tested eight of these subunits in a candidate gene linkage study of panic disorder. METHOD: In 21 U.S. and five Icelandic multiplex pedigrees of panic disorder, 104 individuals had DSM-III-R panic disorder (the narrowly defined affected phenotype) and 134 had either this diagnosis or subsyndromal panic disorder characterized by panic attacks that failed to meet either the criterion of attack frequency or the number of criterion symptoms necessary for a definite diagnosis (the broadly defined affected phenotype). The authors conducted lod score linkage analyses with both phenotypes using both a dominant and a recessive model of inheritance for the following loci: GABRA1-GABRA5 (alpha 1-alpha 5), GABRB1 (beta 1), GABRB3 (beta 3), and GABRG2 (gamma 2). RESULTS: The results failed to support the hypothesis that any of these genes cause panic disorder in a majority of the pedigrees. CONCLUSIONS: Within the limitations of the candidate gene linkage method, panic disorder does not appear to be caused by mutation in any of the eight GABAA receptor genes tested.

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