Flavonoids, both naturally occurring and synthetic, are known to have multiple effects on the activation of ionotropic receptors for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brains. They can act as positive or negative allosteric modulators, enhancing or reducing the effect of GABA. They can elicit a direct activation of the receptors. They can also act to modulate the action of other modulators. This ability to influence function via their actions on GABA receptors permits a range of effects of flavonoids, including relief of anxiety, anticonvulsant, analgesic and sedative actions.
Part of the book: Flavonoids
Agents that antagonize the action of GABA on ionotropic receptors are widely used to probe the function of this neurotransmitter. Three such agents are in common use: bicuculline, gabazine, and picrotoxinin. These three agents produce convulsions on systemic administration but act in significantly different ways. Bicuculline is a competitive antagonist of GABAA receptors. Gabazine is also a competitive antagonist of GABAA receptors, interacting with different residues on the receptors. Picrotoxinin is a noncompetitive antagonist acting on the chloride channel of GABAA and several other ionotropic CYS-loop receptors including glycine, GABAC, and 5-HT3 receptors. Many other structurally diverse agents are now known to act as GABA receptor antagonists, providing opportunities for the discovery of agents with selectivity for the myriad of ionotropic GABA receptors. TPMPA is a selective antagonist for GABAC receptors, which are insensitive to bicuculline. Like TPMPA, many antagonists of ionotropic GABA receptors are not convulsants, indicating that there is still much to be learnt about GABA function in the brain from the study of such agents and their possible therapeutic uses. The most recently discovered GABAA receptor nonconvulsive antagonist is S44819, which is subtype selective for α5-containing receptors, and is arousing much interest in relation to cognition.
Part of the book: GABA And Glutamate