Smart Benzos in the Age of Anxiety

Science's STKE  10 Oct 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 53, pp. tw5
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.53.tw5

Benzodiazepines are widely used drugs that enhance inhibitory GABAergic neurotransmission in the central nervous system. This pharmacological profile causes both anxiolytic and sedative effects. In an attempt to better understand the enormous heterogeneity of GABAA receptors, Löw et al. selectively tried to silence specific receptor subunits. They discovered that the α2 subunit of the GABAA receptor mediates the anxiolytic action of benzodiazepines. This finding could lead to the development of new drugs for the treatment of anxiety without the side effects of sedation or motor impairment.

Löw, K., Crestani, F., Keist, R., Benke, D., Brünig, I., Benson, J.A., Fritschy, J.-M., Rülicke, T., Bluethmann, H., Möhler, H., and Rudolph, U. (2000) Molecular and neuronal substrate for the selective attenuation of anxiety. Science 290: 131-134. [Abstract] [Full Text]