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Eur J Pharmacol. 1999 Apr 29;371(2-3):213-26.

A molecular model for the synergic interaction between gamma-aminobutyric acid and general anaesthetics.

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NICI/Department Psychology, University of Nijmegen, HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Within the context of the discussion about rational polytherapy, we determined the effects of four anaesthetics on the binding of [3H]t-butylbicycloorthobenzoate ([3H]TBOB) to the GABA(A) receptor complex in the presence of several concentrations of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), in order to build a molecular model that can describe and quantify the interactions between the compounds. The empirical isobole method revealed that GABA and the anaesthetics acted synergically in displacing [3H]TBOB. This synergy could be described by a simple molecular model in which both GABA and the anaesthetics displaced [3H]TBOB allosterically and in which GABA allosterically enhanced the binding of the anaesthetics. To get information about the interaction between GABA and anaesthetics, we used [3H]TBOB as a tracer ligand. The model indicated that GABA enhanced the affinity of thiopental 3.0-fold, propofol 5.0-fold, the neuroactive steroids Org 20599 3.5-fold and Org 20549 13-fold. Insight into the molecular mechanism and strength of these interactions can help clinicians to choose therapeutically optimal drug and dose combinations: a step towards rational polytherapy.

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