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Factors determining susceptibility to panic attacks: sex differences and search for novel pharmacotherapies

Grant number: 21/14609-3
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: January 18, 2023 - March 17, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Pharmacology - Neuropsychopharmacology
Principal Investigator:Hélio Zangrossi Júnior
Grantee:Hélio Zangrossi Júnior
Visiting researcher: Thelma Lovick
Visiting researcher institution: University of Bristol, England
Host Institution: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto (FMRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Anxiety-related disorders are the most prevalent class of mental illnesses and twice as common in women compared to men. Early life adversity can significantly increase the risk of developing panic psychopathology in adulthood. At present, one-third of patients are refractory to treatment; there is a pressing need for further research to identify effective treatments. The project focuses on panic behavior. We will utilize two behavioral tests in rats, which have been designed to model respiratory and non-respiratory forms of panic in humans. We will compare responsiveness of males and females, paying particular attention to responsiveness at different stages of the estrous cycle in females, and whether early life stress as a consequence of maternal deprivation increases susceptibility to panic and whether there is differential sensitivity to respiratory and non-respiratory panicogenic challenge. The second part of the study will investigate the effectiveness of two novel potential anti-panic drugs, which our preliminary data indicate may be particularly effective in females. These are low dose fluoxetine (subthreshold for effects on 5-HTsystems) and cannabidiol. (AU)

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