Behavioral, neuroendocrine and biochemical effects of different doses of 5-HTP in panic disorder.


van Vliet IM, Slaap BR, Westenberg HG, Den Boer JA




Eur Neuropsychopharmacol


To investigate the role of serotonin (5-HT) in the pathophysiology of panic disorder (PD) a challenge test with L-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) was conducted. Seven patients suffering from PD and seven healthy controls received an i.v. challenge with 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg 5-HTP and placebo in random order on four different occasions. Before, during and until 2 h after 5-HTP administration anxious and depressive symptomatology was assessed. In addition, plasma levels of 5-HTP, cortisol, and 5-HIAA were measured at several timepoints. During and after infusion of placebo or any of the different dosages of 5-HTP, none of the patients or controls experienced a panic attack or showed an increase in anxiety or depressive symptoms. There was a dose-related increase in side effects, like nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Only infusion with 40 mg 5-HTP led to an increase in plasma cortisol in both patients and controls. The observed increase in plasma cortisol level was higher for patients compared to controls only at 30 min after infusion. In conclusion, stimulation of the serotonergic neuronal system by three different dosages of 5-HTP did not induce panic or anxiety in PD patients and healthy controls. The 5-HT hypersensitivity hypothesis of PD could not be confirmed in the present study.