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Role of GABAA receptors in the physiology and pharmacology of sleep


Winsky-Sommerer, R (2009). Role of GABAA receptors in the physiology and pharmacology of sleep. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29(9):1779-1794.

Abstract

Most sedative-hypnotics used in insomnia treatment target the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)(A) receptors. A vast repertoire of GABA(A) receptor subtypes has been identified and displays specific electrophysiological and functional properties. GABA(A)-mediated inhibition traditionally refers to 'phasic' inhibition, arising from synaptic GABA(A) receptors which transiently inhibit neurons. However, there is growing evidence that peri- or extra-synaptic GABA(A) receptors are continuously activated by low GABA concentrations and mediate a 'tonic' conductance. This slower type of signaling appears to play a key role in controlling cell excitability. This review aims at summarizing recent knowledge on GABA transmission, including the emergence of tonic conductance, and highlighting the importance of GABA(A) receptor heterogeneity. The mechanism of action of sedative-hypnotic drugs and their effects on sleep and the electroencephalogram will be reported. Furthermore, studies using genetically engineered mice will be emphasized, providing insights into the role of GABA(A) receptors in mechanisms underlying physiological and pharmacological sleep. Finally, we will address the potential of GABA(A) receptor pharmacology for the treatment of insomnia.

Abstract

Most sedative-hypnotics used in insomnia treatment target the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)(A) receptors. A vast repertoire of GABA(A) receptor subtypes has been identified and displays specific electrophysiological and functional properties. GABA(A)-mediated inhibition traditionally refers to 'phasic' inhibition, arising from synaptic GABA(A) receptors which transiently inhibit neurons. However, there is growing evidence that peri- or extra-synaptic GABA(A) receptors are continuously activated by low GABA concentrations and mediate a 'tonic' conductance. This slower type of signaling appears to play a key role in controlling cell excitability. This review aims at summarizing recent knowledge on GABA transmission, including the emergence of tonic conductance, and highlighting the importance of GABA(A) receptor heterogeneity. The mechanism of action of sedative-hypnotic drugs and their effects on sleep and the electroencephalogram will be reported. Furthermore, studies using genetically engineered mice will be emphasized, providing insights into the role of GABA(A) receptors in mechanisms underlying physiological and pharmacological sleep. Finally, we will address the potential of GABA(A) receptor pharmacology for the treatment of insomnia.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:May 2009
Deposited On:27 Jul 2009 12:20
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 20:14
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0953-816X
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06716.x
PubMed ID:19473233

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