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Neurochem Int. 2006 May-Jun;48(6-7):508-14. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Acute regulation of steady-state GABA levels following GABA-transaminase inhibition in rat cerebral cortex.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8043, USA.


Cellular GABA levels are determined by the dynamic balance between synthesis and catabolism and are regulated at the level of glutamate decarboxylase, precursor availability (e.g., glutamate and glutamine), and possibly GABA degradation. GABA levels rise and stabilize within hours in human cortex following orally administered vigabatrin, an irreversible inhibitor of GABA-T, suggesting potential product inhibition of GABA synthesis or enhanced GABA degradation through the non-inhibited GABA-T fraction. In this study time courses of the rise in cortical GABA were measured in anesthetized rats in vivo after vigabatrin treatment using localized (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy and the times to reach steady-state for a given dose were determined. Rates of GABA synthesis were estimated for the period of constant GABA level from the accumulation of [2-(13)C]GABA following a short intravenous infusion (20 min) of either [1,6-(13)C(2)]glucose or [2-(13)C]acetate. No evidence of product inhibition of glutamate decarboxylase by the increased GABA concentration or reduced synthesis from [1,6-(13)C(2)]glucose (control, 0.031+/-0.010; vigabatrin-treated, 0.037+/-0.004 micromol/g/min, P=0.30) or [2-(13)C]acetate (control, 0.078+/-0.010; vigabatrin-treated, 0.084+/-0.006 micromol/g/min, P=0.42) was found. Fractional changes in steady-state GABA levels and GABA-T activities 5-6 h after vigabatrin treatment were approximately equal. The lack of change in GABA synthesis (and GABA catabolic flux for constant GABA levels) suggests that GABA-T has a near-zero flux control coefficient in vivo-capable of greatly altering the steady-state GABA concentration but exerting little or no control on GABA synthesis or GABA/glutamine cycling flux. The findings are consistent with a Michaelis-Menten kinetic model whereby cellular GABA levels increase until flux through the remaining (uninhibited) transaminase equals the rate of GABA synthesis. The findings suggest that astroglia may be the site of continuing GABA catabolism after acute vigabatrin treatment.

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