CO2 hypersensitivity in recently abstinent alcohol dependent individuals: A possible mechanism underlying the high risk for anxiety disorder among alcoholics

Yuri Rassovsky, Elisabeth Hurliman, Kenneth Abrams, Matt G. Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Alcohol, administered acutely, is known to cause CO2 hyposensitivity. CO2 hypersensitivity associated with anxiogenic hyperventilation (HV) could reasonably be expected to emerge as an opponent process upon withdrawal from chronic alcohol use. To test this hypothesis, we applied two well-known methods to quantify CO2 sensitivity in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent individuals and never alcohol-disordered individuals who are social drinkers. We found that the alcoholic group exhibited significantly greater CO2 sensitivity than did controls in response to both challenges. Indirect evidence of chronic HV was also obtained. These findings implicate the effect of chronic alcohol use on CNS-based CO 2 sensitivity in heightening the vulnerability to disturbing anxiety symptoms and syndromes exhibited by alcoholic individuals. Future work must verify that pathological drinking actually causes the dysregulated respiratory responding observed in this study as is inferred in our conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-176
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant AA09871, awarded to the last author, and by National Institute of Mental Health Training Grant MH-17069, awarded to the first author.

Copyright:
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Alcoholism
  • Anxiety
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Comorbidity
  • Panic disorder

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