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Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(34):4943-59.

GABA Receptors: Pharmacological Potential and Pitfalls.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Molecular Neuropharmacology, Division of Molecular Medicine, Ruder Boskovic Institute, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia. josipa.vlainic@irb.hr.

Abstract

Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system, plays a key role in the regulation of neuronal transmission throughout the brain, affecting numerous physiological and psychological processes. Changes in GABA levels provoke disbalance between excitatory and inhibitory signals, and are involved in the development of numerous neuropsychiatric disorders. GABA exerts its effects via ionotropic (GABAA) and metabotropic (GABAB) receptors. Both types of receptors are targeted by many clinically important drugs that affect GABAergic function and are widely used in the treatment of anxiety disorder, epilepsy, insomnia, spasticity, aggressive behaviour, and other pathophysiological conditions and diseases. Of particular importance are drugs that modulate GABAA receptor complex, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, neuroactive steroids, intravenous and inhalational anesthetics, and ethanol. Molecular interactions and subsequent pharmacological effects induced by drugs acting at GABAA receptors are extremely complex due to structural heterogeneity of GABAA receptors and existence of numerous allosterically interconnected binding sites and various chemically distinct ligands that are able to bound to them. There is a growing interest in the development and application of subtype-selective drugs that will achieve specific therapeutic benefits without undesirable side effects. The aim of this review is to briefly summarize the key pharmacological properties of GABA receptors, and to present selected novel findings with the potential to open new perspectives in the development of more effective therapeutic strategies.

PMID:
26365137
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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