Behavioral, physiological, and neuroendocrine responses to arecoline in normal twins and "well state" bipolar patients

John I. Nurnberger, David C. Jimerson, Susan Simmons-Alling, Carol Tamminga, N. Suzan Nadi, Dawn Lawrence, Natraj Sitaram, J. Christian Gillin, Elliot S. Gershon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Cholinergic supersensitivity has been postulated to be an etiologic factor in affective disorder. After several pilot dose-response studies, we administered 8 mg of the cholinergic agonist arecoline subcutaneously to eight pairs of normal volunteer identical twins and eight bipolar patients currently euthymic and unmedicated. During the hour following arecoline administration, the Profile of Mood States (POMS) showed an increase in total mood disturbance in both patient and control groups. Mean systolic blood pressure, pulse, plasma cortisol, prolactin, and growth hormone also increased. Anger and elation scores on the POMS showed significant concordance in identical twins, as did change in prolactin, implying that these are the components of drug response possibly influenced by genetic factors. None of these responses differentiated well state patients from controls. Thus, mood, behavioral, and neurochemical responses to arecoline, which appears to have nonspecific neurochemical effects at the dose employed, are not markers of vulnerability to affective illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1983


  • Arecoline
  • behavioral effects
  • bipolar illness
  • genetic marker
  • neuroendocrine effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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