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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986 Dec;83(23):9236-40.

Purification of a benzodiazepine from bovine brain and detection of benzodiazepine-like immunoreactivity in human brain.


An endogenous brain substance that binds to the central-type benzodiazepine receptors with agonist properties is present in both rat and bovine brains. This substance has been purified to homogeneity from bovine brain by immunoaffinity chromatography on immobilized monoclonal anti-benzodiazepine antibody followed by gel filtration on Sephadex G-25 and two reversed-phase HPLC steps. The purified substance was characterized as the benzodiazepine N-desmethyldiazepam (nordiazepam). The techniques used for the identification were mass spectrometry, HPLC, spectrophotometry, benzodiazepine receptor binding, and immunological techniques. Benzodiazepine-like immunoreactivity was also found in all the human brains tested, including six brains that had been stored in paraffin since 1940, fifteen years before the first synthesis of benzodiazepines. These results show that benzodiazepine-like molecules of natural origin--and possibly benzodiazepines themselves--are present in human and other mammalian brains.

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