Public Release: 

A Genetic Marker Of Panic Disorder

Molecular Psychiatry

Panic disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by frequent episodes of severe panic attacks. The biology and genetics of panic disorder are being intensively studied. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a peptide that is found in the gut and in the brain; Intravenous injection of CCK tetrapeptide (CCK4) induces symptoms similar to those of panic attacks. Genes involved in the regulation of CCK function have therefore been logical candidates for association studies in panic disorder. In the current issue of Molecular Psychiatry, Kennedy and colleagues at the University of Toronto?s Clarke Institute report a study of the genes regulating CCK function in 99 patients with panic disorder and age- and sex-matched controls. They found that panic disorder is highly associated to a highly polymorphic marker on the regulatory region of the CCK-B receptor. Thus, variations in CCK receptor function could be a risk factor for panic attacks, and could be useful in the diagnosis and future therapeutic approaches to panic.

JL Kennedy, J Bradwejn, D Koszycki, N King, R Crowe, J Vincent, O Fourie. Investigation of cholecystokinin system genes in panic disorder. Mol Psychiatry 1999;4:284-285.

Researchers from the Clarke Institute and University of Toronto, and University of Iowa College of Medicine contributed to the study.


For further information on this work, please contact Dr. James L. Kennedy, Neurogenetics Section, Clarke Division, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1R8 Tel: 1-416-979-4987; Fax: 1-416-979-4666; email:

Molecular Psychiatry is an independent, peer-reviewed journal published by the Nature Publishing Group. Editorial decisions and publication in Molecular Psychiatry do not constitute endorsement by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institutes of Health or any branch of the government of the United States of America.

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