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Cholinergic modulation of disorder-relevant human defensive behaviour in generalised anxiety disorder

Perkins, A; Patrick, F; Wise, T; Meyer, N; Mazibuko, N; Oates, AE; van der Bijl, AHM; ... Young, AH; + view all (2021) Cholinergic modulation of disorder-relevant human defensive behaviour in generalised anxiety disorder. Translational Psychiatry , 11 , Article 13. 10.1038/s41398-020-01141-5. Green open access

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Abstract

Drugs that are clinically effective against anxiety disorders modulate the innate defensive behaviour of rodents, suggesting these illnesses reflect altered functioning in brain systems that process threat. This hypothesis is supported in humans by the discovery that the intensity of threat-avoidance behaviour is altered by the benzodiazepine anxiolytic lorazepam. However, these studies used healthy human participants, raising questions as to their validity in anxiety disorder patients, as well as their generalisability beyond GABAergic benzodiazepine drugs. BNC210 is a novel negative allosteric modulator of the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and we recently used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to show it reduced amygdala responses to fearful faces in generalised anxiety disorder patients. Here we report the effect of BNC210 on the intensity of threat-avoidance behaviour in 21 female GAD patients from the same cohort. We used the Joystick Operated Runway Task as our behavioural measure, which is a computerised human translation of the Mouse Defense Test Battery, and the Spielberger state anxiety inventory as our measure of state affect. Using a repeated-measures, within-subjects design we assessed the effect of BNC210 at two dose levels versus placebo (300 mg and 2000 mg) upon two types of threat-avoidance behaviour (Flight Intensity and Risk Assessment Intensity). We also tested the effects of 1.5 mg of the benzodiazepine lorazepam as an active control. BNC210 significantly reduced Flight Intensity relative to placebo and the low dose of BNC210 also significantly reduced self-reported state anxiety. Risk Assessment Intensity was not significantly affected. Results show both human defensive behaviour and state anxiety are influenced by cholinergic neurotransmission and there provide converging evidence that this system has potential as a novel target for anxiolytic pharmacotherapy

Type: Article
Title: Cholinergic modulation of disorder-relevant human defensive behaviour in generalised anxiety disorder
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41398-020-01141-5
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01141-5
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119421
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