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Benzodiazepine Sensitivity in Normal Human Subjects

Daniel W. Hommer, MD; Victor Matsuo, PhD; Owen Wolkowitz, MD; Georgia Chrousos, MD; David J. Greenblatt, MD; Herbert Weingartner, PhD; Steven M. Paul, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):542-551. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060032005.
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• Increasing intravenous doses of diazepam or placebo were administered to ten healthy normal volunteers, and the changes in saccadic eye velocity, self-rated sedation and anxiety, and plasma cortisol and growth hormone concentrations were measured. Diazepam administration (4.4 to 140 μg/kg, cumulative dose) resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in saccadic eye velocity and plasma cortisol level as well as a dose-dependent increase in self-rated sedation and plasma growth hormone level. Self-rated anxiety was unaffected in these relatively nonanxious subjects. The diazepam-induced changes in saccadic eye velocity, sedation, and growth hormone and cortisol levels were highly correlated with each other and with increasing plasma diazepam concentration. These results are consistent with a benzodiazepine receptor—mediated action of diazepam. The highly quantifiable and dose-dependent decrease in saccadic eye velocity by benzodiazepines should make this a useful measure of benzodiazepine receptor sensitivity in humans.

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