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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

GABA(A)-mediated toxicity of hippocampal neurons in vitro.

In the present study, we examined whether the elevation of GABA by gamma-vinyl-GABA protects cultured rat fetal hippocampal neurons against toxicity induced by a 20-min incubation with 100 microM L-glutamate. Neither a 24-h pretreatment nor posttreatment with gamma-vinyl-GABA (100 microM) had any neuroprotective effects, as determined by counting microtubule-associated protein-2 positive cells and lactate dehydrogenase assay 24 h after the glutamate treatment. Unexpectedly, gamma-vinyl-GABA alone induced a 20% loss of microtubule-associated protein-2-positive cells in a culture that was grown in medium containing 25 mM KCl. The toxic effect of gamma-vinyl-GABA was mimicked by a 24-h treatment with GABA (100 microM) and the GABA(A) receptor agonist, muscimol (10 microM), but not the GABA(B) receptor agonist, baclofen (10 microM). The GABA(A) receptor antagonist, bicuculline (10 microM), protected against gamma-vinyl-GABA and GABA-evoked toxicity. Neither gamma-vinyl-GABA nor GABA was toxic in culture medium containing 15 mM KCl. These data indicate that, under depolarizing conditions, an increased GABA level is toxic for a subpopulation of developing hippocampal neurons in vitro. The effect is GABA(A) receptor-mediated. These data provide a new view for understanding neurodegenerative processes, and raise a question of the safety of therapies aimed at increasing GABA concentration following brain insults, especially in immature brains.[1]


  1. GABA(A)-mediated toxicity of hippocampal neurons in vitro. Lukasiuk, K., Pitkänen, A. J. Neurochem. (2000) [Pubmed]
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