Objective: The blood platelet has been proposed as a model of central neurons and may therefore be used as a peripheral marker of psychiatric illness. One method of investigating serotonin function in panic disorder has relied on the use of the platelet as a model of serotonergic neurons. This article reviews the studies of platelet function in panic disorder.
Method: A literature search and review of relevant papers was undertaken.
Result: Studies examining platelet serotonin uptake and concentration in panic disorder patients have to date yielded conflicting results, with some investigators reporting increased serotonin uptake, others reduced uptake. Similarly studies of platelet 3H-imipramine binding have also yielded conflicting results. Two studies of platelet 3H-paroxetine binding have shown a reduction in the density of binding sites (Bmax) in patients with panic disorder. Platelet monoamine oxidase activity in anxiety disorders has been reported to be increased by some investigators but decreased by others. Methodological considerations may have been responsible for these differences. Finally, studies of α2 adrenoceptor density have also produced contrasting findings.
Conclusion: The findings of these studies indicate that platelet function is altered in panic disorder. Such changes may allow an insight into the biochemical aetiology of the illness. Further studies are required to delineate the role of serotonin and non-adrenaline in panic disorder.