Gamma-aminobutyric acid, type A (GABAA
) receptors are complex heterogeneous pentamers with various drug binding sites. Several lines of evidence suggest that benzodiazepines modulate certain GABAA
receptors in a flumazenil-insensitive manner, possibly via binding sites other than the classical ones. However, GABAA
receptor subtypes that contain non-classical benzodiazepine binding sites are not systemically studied. The present study investigated the high-concentration effects of three benzodiazepines and their sensitivity to flumazenil on different recombinant (α1β2, α2β2, α3β2, α4β2, α5β2 and α1β3) and native neuronal GABAA
receptors using the whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology technique. The classical benzodiazepine diazepam (200 μmol/L) and midazolam (200 μmol/L) produced flumazenil-insensitive effects on α1β2 receptor, whereas the imidazopyridine zolpidem failed to modulate the receptor. Flumazenil-insensitive effects of diazepam were also observed on the α2β2, α3β2 and α5β2, but not α4β2 receptors. Unlike β2-containing receptors, the α1β3 receptor was insensitive to diazepam. Moreover, the diazepam (200 μmol/L) effects on some cortical neurons could not be fully antagonized by flumazenil (200 μmol/L). These findings suggested that the non-classical (flumazenil-insensitive) benzodiazepine effects depended on certain receptor subtypes and benzodiazepine structures and may be important for designing of subtype- or binding site- specific drugs.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited