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March 1991

The Cholinergic Rapid Eye Movement Induction Test With Arecoline in Depression

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, and the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(3):264-270. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810270076011

• The cholinergic rapid eye movement (REM) induction test using arecoline hydrobromide, a cholinergic muscarinic receptor agonist, was studied in patients with affective disorder and in normal controls to determine whether or not depression is associated with enhanced induction of REM sleep by muscarinic agonists. Arecoline induced REM sleep in a dose-dependent fashion in both patients and controls compared with placebo infusions. Compared with normal controls, patients entered REM sleep significantly more rapidly following intravenous administration of 1.0 mg of arecoline hydrobromide than they did following administration of 0.5 mg of arecoline hydrobromide or placebo. These results, as well as those of previous studies, support the hypothesis that patients with affective disorder show a functional supersensitive induction of REM sleep in response to muscarinic receptor agonists and may be consistent with the hypothesis that functional muscarinic receptor "up regulation" is associated with depression.

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