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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2001 Apr;22(4):188-94.

GABA(A) receptor subtypes: dissecting their pharmacological functions.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology,University of Zürich and Swiss Federal Institut of Technology (ETH) Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057, Zürich, Switzerland.


The enhancement of GABA-mediated synaptic transmission underlies the pharmacotherapy of various neurological and psychiatric disorders. GABA(A) receptors are pluripotent drug targets that display an extraordinary structural heterogeneity: they are assembled from a repertoire of at least 18 subunits (alpha1-6, beta1-3, gamma1-3, delta, epsilon, theta, rho1-3). However, differentiating defined GABA(A) receptor subtypes on the basis of function has had to await recent progress in the genetic dissection of receptor subtypes in vivo. Evidence that the various actions of allosteric modulators of GABA(A) receptors, in particular the benzodiazepines, can be attributed to specific GABA(A) receptor subtypes will be discussed. Such discoveries could open up new avenues for drug development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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