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FIGURE 1–8. The GABAergic system.This figure depicts the various regulatory processes involved in GABAergic neurotransmission. The amino acid (and neurotransmitter) glutamate serves as the precursor for the biosynthesis of -aminobutyric acid (GABA). The rate-limiting enzyme for the process is glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), which utilizes pyridoxal phosphate as an important cofactor. Furthermore, agents such as l-glutamine--hydrazide and allylglycine inhibit this enzyme and, thus, the production of GABA. Once released from the presynaptic terminal, GABA can interact with a variety of presynaptic and postsynaptic receptors. Presynaptic regulation of GABA neuron firing activity and release occurs through somatodendritic (not shown) and nerve-terminal GABAB receptors, respectively. Baclofen is a GABAB receptor agonist. The binding of GABA to ionotropic GABAA receptors and metabotropic GABAB receptors mediates the effects of this receptor. The GABAB receptors are thought to mediate their actions by being coupled to Ca2+ or K+ channels via second-messenger systems. Many agents are able to modulate GABAA receptor function. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, increase Cl permeability, and there are numerous available antagonists directed against this site. There is also a distinctive barbiturate binding site on GABAA receptors, and many psychotropic agents are capable of influencing the function of this receptor (see blown-up diagram). GABA is taken back into presynaptic nerve endings by a high-affinity GABA uptake transporter (GABAT) similar to that of the monoamines. Once inside the neuron, GABA can be broken down by GABA transaminase (GABA-T), which is localized in the mitochondria; GABA that is not degraded is sequestered and stored into secretory vesicles by vesicle GABA transporters (VGTs), which differ from VMATs in their bioenergetic dependence. The metabolic pathway that produces GABA, mostly from glucose, is referred to as the GABA shunt. The conversion of -ketoglutarate into glutamate by the action of GABA-T and GAD catalyzes the decarboxylation of glutamic acid to produce GABA. GABA can undergo numerous transformations, of which the simplest is the reduction of succinic semialdehyde (SS) to -hydroxybutyrate (GHB). On the other hand, when SS is oxidized by succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH), the production of succinic acid (SA) occurs. GHB has received attention because it regulates narcoleptic episodes and may produce amnestic effects. The mood stabilizer and antiepileptic drug valproic acid is reported to inhibit SSADH and GABA-T. TBPS = t-butylbicyclophosphorothionate.Source. Adapted from Cooper JR, Bloom FE, Roth RH: The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, 7th Edition. New York, Oxford University Press, 2001. Copyright 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc.

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