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

Relationship between drug-induced increases of GABA levels in discrete brain areas and different pharmacological effects in rats.

Following the administration of two gamma-aminobutyric acid-(GABA) elevating drugs, namely aminooxyacetic acid (AOAA) and valproic acid (VPA), in rats, the relationship between the magnitude and the time course of increases in GABA levels of 11 brain regions and a number of pharmacological effects was studied. AOAA (30 mg/kg i.p.) caused significant GABA increases in all brain areas but the degree and time course of these increases showed considerable variation from region to region. The most marked effects were seen in the olfactory bulb, frontal cortex and hippocampus, in which maximum GABA elevations of 100-200% were reached 4-6 hr after AOAA injection. In all the other regions studied (corpus striatum, thalamus, hypothalamus, superior and inferior colliculus, substantia nigra, pons, medulla, cerebellum), increases in GABA were less marked and, at least in part, maximum increases (30-60% over control) were already reached by 1-2 hr. In contrast to AOAA, VPA (200 mg/kg i.p.) produced significant increases in GABA levels only in the cortex, olfactory bulb, corpus striatum, hypothalamus and cerebellum, maximum effects (15-35%) being already reached 5-30 min after VPA administration. As regards pharmacological effects, AOAA caused marked hypothermia, which was maximal by 1 hr and could be reversed by increasing ambient temperature, whereas effects of VPA on body temperature were only moderate. On the other hand, both drugs exerted an almost equal, pronounced antinociceptive effect in the hot plate test. Anticonvulsant efficacy was evaluated in three seizure models, namely the maximal (tonic extension) electroconvulsive threshold, and seizures induced by pentylenetetrazol and 3-mercaptopropionic acid. Anticonvulsant effects of AOAA against electroshock and pentylenetetrazol could only be determined 1 hr after injection, at which time AOAA was inactive against 3-mercaptopropionic acid-induced seizures. VPA proved to be clearly superior to AOAA in both anticonvulsant potency and duration of action. The marked differences in functional effects between VPA and AOAA could not be related to their differential effects on GABA levels in discrete brain regions. The data thus suggest that measurement of total GABA in brain regions without consideration of the compartmentalization of the neurotransmitter is only of limited value to use in an attempt to correlate elevation of GABA levels and pharmacological effects.[1]


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