Benzodiazepines: potentiation of a GABA inhibitory response in the dorsal raphe nucleus

European Journal of Pharmacology
D W Gallager

Abstract

Based on evidence that the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) has specific and independent receptors for 5HT, GABA and glycine (Gallager and Aghajanian, 1976; Wang and Aghajanian, 1977), alterations in the firing rate of DR neurons following the administration of benzodiazepines (BZ) were evaluated to determine whether they were the result of a direct interaction with 5HT receptors or due to interactions of these drugs with GABA and/or glycine. The effects of BZs after both direct and systemic application were tested in rats using microiotophoretic and single-cell recording techniques. Although the BZs did not alter the spontaneous firing rate of the DR, both the systemic and iontophoretic administration of these drugs were found to potentiate the inhibitory response produced by GABA. The data suggest that this potentiation is mediated postsynaptically. Since the effects of BZs on the spontaneous activity of the DR are only apparent following pretreatments with AOAA, it is speculated that these drugs may only have pronounced effects when GABAergic input is prominent.

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