Effect of post-retrieval propranolol on psychophysiologic responding during subsequent script-driven traumatic imagery in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Author(s): Brunet A, Orr SP, Tremblay J, Robertson K, Nader K, Pitman RK
Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Douglas Hospital Research Center, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Publication date & source: 2008-05, J Psychiatr Res., 42(6):503-6. Epub 2007 Jun 22.
Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
The beta-adrenergic blocker propranolol given within hours of a psychologically traumatic event reduces physiologic responses during subsequent mental imagery of the event. Here we tested the effect of propranolol given after the retrieval of memories of past traumatic events. Subjects with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder described their traumatic event during a script preparation session and then received a one-day dose of propranolol (n=9) or placebo (n=10), randomized and double-blind. A week later, they engaged in script-driven mental imagery of their traumatic event while heart rate, skin conductance, and left corrugator electromyogram were measured. Physiologic responses were significantly smaller in the subjects who had received post-reactivation propranolol a week earlier. Propranolol given after reactivation of the memory of a past traumatic event reduces physiologic responding during subsequent mental imagery of the event in a similar manner to propranolol given shortly after the occurrence of a traumatic event.