We investigated the possible existence of endogenous compounds acting on benzodiazepine central receptors in the serum of patients with panic attacks or depression. Our results show the presence of a substance which inhibits the 3H-fiunitrazepam binding specifically in the samples taken from the patients’ groups, and which is not present in normal controls, in the range of concentrations used. This compound has a molecular weight below 1,000 daltons, is heat-stable, and resistant to proteolytic degradation. The demonstration of this inhibitor opens new perspectives in the study of the biochemistry of anxiety.

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