Select panicogenic drugs and stimuli induce consistent increases in tail skin flushes and decreases in core body temperature

Lauren M. Federici, Izabela F. Caliman, Stephanie D. Fitz, Anantha Shekhar, Philip L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Panic attacks (PAs) are episodes of intense fear or discomfort that are accompanied by a variety of both psychological and somatic symptoms. Panic induction in preclinical models (e.g. rats) has largely been assayed through flight and avoidance behavioral tests and cardiorespiratory activity. Yet, the literature pertaining to PAs shows that thermal sensations (hot flushes/heat sensations and chills) are also a common symptom during PAs in humans. Considering that temperature alterations are objectively measurable in rodents, we hypothesized that select panicogenic drugs and stimuli induce consistent changes in thermoregulation related to hot flushes and chills. Specifically, we challenged male rats with intraperitoneal injections of the GABAergic inverse agonist FG-7142; the α2 adrenoceptor antagonist yohimbine; the serotonin agonist d-fenfluramine, and 20% CO2 (an interoceptive homeostatic challenge). We assayed core body temperature and tail skin temperature using implanted radiotelemetry probes and tail thermistors/thermal imaging camera, respectively, and found that all challenges elicited rapid, high-amplitude (∼7-9°C) increase in tail skin temperature and delayed decreases (∼1-3°C) in core body temperature. We propose that thermal sensations such as these may be an additional indicator of a panic response in rodents and humans, as these panicogenic compounds or stimuli are known to precipitate PAs in persons with panic disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-382
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • CO
  • GABA
  • anxiety
  • hot flush
  • norepinephrine
  • panic
  • rat
  • serotonin
  • temperature
  • thermal imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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