Evidence for a significant role of alpha 3-containing GABAA receptors in mediating the anxiolytic effects of benzodiazepines.
The GABA(A) receptor subtypes responsible for the anxiolytic effects of nonselective benzodiazepines (BZs) such as chlordiazepoxide (CDP) and diazepam remain controversial. Hence, molecular genetic data suggest that alpha2-rather than alpha3-containing GABA(A) receptors are responsible for the anxiolytic effects of diazepam, whereas the anxiogenic effects of an alpha3-selective inverse agonist suggest that an agonist selective for this subtype should be anxiolytic. We have extended this latter pharmacological approach to identify a compound, 4,2'-difluoro-5'-[8-fluoro-7-(1-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)imidazo[1,2-á]pyridin-3-yl]biphenyl-2-carbonitrile (TP003), that is an alpha3 subtype selective agonist that produced a robust anxiolytic-like effect in both rodent and non-human primate behavioral models of anxiety. Moreover, in mice containing a point mutation that renders alpha2-containing receptors BZ insensitive (alpha2H101R mice), TP003 as well as the nonselective agonist CDP retained efficacy in a stress-induced hyperthermia model. Together, these data show that potentiation of alpha3-containing GABA(A) receptors is sufficient to produce the anxiolytic effects of BZs and that alpha2 potentiation may not be necessary.
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