June 1986

Benzodiazepine Sensitivity in Normal Human Subjects

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Neuroscience Branch (Drs Hommer, Wolkowitz, and Paul) and the Laboratory of Psychology and Psychopathology (Dr Weingartner), National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md; the Clinical Branch (Drs Matsuo and Chrousos), National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Md; and the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine (Dr Greenblatt), Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):542-551. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060032005

• 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.