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J Neurochem. 2011 May;117(4):613-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07237.x. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

Implications for treatment: GABAA receptors in aging, Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0624, USA.


In addition to progressive dementia, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by increased incidence of seizure activity. Although originally discounted as a secondary process occurring as a result of neurodegeneration, more recent data suggest that alterations in excitatory-inhibitory (E/I) balance occur in AD and may be a primary mechanism contributing AD cognitive decline. In this study, we discuss relevant research and reports on the GABA(A) receptor in developmental disorders, such as Down syndrome, in healthy aging, and highlight documented aberrations in the GABAergic system in AD. Stressing the importance of understanding the subunit composition of individual GABA(A) receptors, investigations demonstrate alterations of particular GABA(A) receptor subunits in AD, but overall sparing of the GABAergic system. In this study, we review experimental data on the GABAergic system in the pathobiology of AD and discuss relevant therapeutic implications. When developing AD therapeutics that modulate GABA it is important to consider how E/I balance impacts AD pathogenesis and the relationship between seizure activity and cognitive decline.

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