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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Mar;78(3):1935-8.

Autoradiographic localization of benzodiazepine receptors in immunocytochemically identified gamma-aminobutyrergic synapses.


Benzodiazepine receptors can be visualized in regions of synaptic contact by electron microscopic autoradiography using [3H]flunitrazepam as a photoaffinity label in fresh brain tissue. Perfusion fixation of the tissue prior to photoaffinity labeling left the ligand binding characteristics and the light and electron microscopic distribution of benzodiazepine receptors unaltered. Therefore, the immunocytochemical localization of a neuronal marker in fixed tissue could be combined with photoaffinity labeling in order to identify the types of synapses containing benzodiazepine receptors. By using antiserum to glutamate decarboxylase, a marker of gamma-aminobutyrergic neurons, one-third of the photolabeled benzodiazepine receptors were found to be associated with immunocytochemically stained nerve endings. Thus, these synapses are the site of at lest some benzodiazepine receptors. The enhancement of gamma-aminobutyrergic synaptic transmission by benzodiazepines, shown electrophysiologically, appears to be a primary mechanism of action of this group of drugs.

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