GABA and epilepsy: their complex relationship and the evolution of our understanding.

Article date: 1992/1/1

PubMed ID: 1313057

Journal name: Journal of child neurology (ISSN: 0883-0738)


Because of its abundance in the brain, its ability to produce hyperpolarizing inhibition of almost all neurons, its association with benzodiazepines, and the discovery that many convulsants inhibited its synthesis, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has often appeared to be the key to epilepsy. Many assumed that “primary” or “genetic” epilepsy must be a disorder of GABA synapses and that GABA agonists would be universal anticonvulsants if permeability and drug metabolism were controlled. The GABA synthetic gene was a logical “candidate gene” for epilepsy. However, the GABA-deficiency theory of epilepsy is less convincing today. GABA agonists were found to intensify seizures in some rodent and human cases. Absence and other generalized seizures in humans often worsened when treated with GABA transaminase inhibitors such as gamma-vinyl-GABA. Surprisingly, the GABA transaminase inhibitors appear to be more useful in partial than in generalized epilepsies. Neuronal GABA uptake blockers are proconvulsant. GABA agonists aggravate seizures in several mutants, ranging from the photosensitive baboon to the genetically epilepsy-prone rat. How can this be understood? Muscimol injections into the pedunculopontine nucleus increase seizures due to systematically administered convulsants, while the receptor blocker bicuculline suppresses seizures after injection into several brain regions, including the striatum. The result of inhibiting inhibitory circuits is excitation. Studies with GABA uptake blockers and the GABAB agonist baclofen are presented in which their combined administration provoked seizures in rats. Baclofen was shown also to increase the incidence of seizures evoked by pentylenetetrazole without increasing seizures due to local injections of excitatory amino acids. Baclofen antagonized the myoclonic effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan in rats with serotonin lesions. Baclofen augments some seizures and inhibits others. Selective inhibition of a particular tract, whether GABAergic or not, may have convulsant or anticonvulsant effects, depending on its connections and the state of the organism. GABAA receptor stimulation is usually but not always anticonvulsant. GABAB receptor stimulation may facilitate absence seizures and related primary generalized seizures. GABAB receptors may be abnormal in some forms of nonfocal epilepsy seen in childhood. It is likely that mutations of GABA transporter and GABAA receptor genes will be found in humans but they will probably not be patients with “pure epilepsy.”

This document is available from: http://directlinks.cc/files/muscimol/1313057.pdf

Author List: Snodgrass S R

Publication Types: Journal Article; Review

Substances mentioned in the article: Receptors, GABA-A; gamma-Aminobutyric Acid; Baclofen;

Mesh terms: Baclofen/administration & dosage; Brain/metabolism; Epilepsy/drug therapy; Humans; Receptors, GABA-A/physiology; gamma-Aminobutyric Acid/physiology;

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