Gamma-aminobutyric acid

Gamma-aminobutyric acid

Chembox new
ImageFile=Gamma-Aminobuttersäure - gamma-aminobutyric acid.svg
ImageFile2=GABA3d.pngIUPACName=4-aminobutanoic acid
Section1= Chembox Identifiers
ChemSpiderID = 116

Section2= Chembox Properties
MolarMass=103.12 g/mol

Section3= Chembox Hazards

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It plays an important role in regulating neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. GABA is also directly responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.

Unlike its function in mammals, GABA acts on excitatory receptors in insect species.

Although some GABA can be found in pancreatic islet cells and kidney, there are no significant amounts of GABA in mammalian tissues other than the tissues of the nervous system.fact|date=June 2008

In spastic cerebral palsy in humans, GABA cannot be absorbed properly by the damaged nerve rootlets corresponding to affected muscles, which leads to hypertonia in those muscles.

Disrupted GABAergic signaling has been implicated in numerous and varied neurological and psychiatric pathologies including movement and anxiety disorders, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and addiction.

GABA is technically an amino acid, though it is rarely referred to as such. This is because the term "amino acid", used without a qualifier, refers to the alpha amino acids. GABA is not an alpha amino acid, nor is it incorporated into proteins.


In vertebrates, GABA acts at inhibitory synapses in the brain by binding to specific transmembrane receptors in the plasma membrane of both pre- and postsynaptic neuronal processes. This binding causes the opening of ion channels to allow the flow of either negatively charged chloride ions into the cell or positively charged potassium ions out of the cell. This action results in a negative change in the transmembrane potential, usually causing hyperpolarization. Three general classes of GABA receptor are known: GABAA and GABAC ionotropic receptors, which are ion channels themselves, and GABAB metabotropic receptors, which are G protein-coupled receptors that open ion channels via intermediaries (G proteins).

Neurons that produce GABA as their output are called GABAergic neurons, and have chiefly inhibitory action at receptors in the adult vertebrate. Medium Spiny Cells are a typical example of inhibitory CNS GABAergic cells. In hippocampus and neocortex of the mammalian brain, GABA has primarily excitatory effects early in development, and is in fact the major excitatory neurotransmitter in many regions of the brain before the maturation of glutamate synapses - "See" "developing cortex".

GABA exhibits excitatory actions in insects, mediating muscle activation at synapses between nerves and muscle cells, and also the stimulation of certain glands.

Whether GABA is excitatory or inhibitory depends on the direction (into or out of the cell) and magnitude of the ionic currents controlled by the GABAA receptor. When net positive ionic current is directed into the cell, GABA is excitatory, when the net positive current is directed out of the cell, GABA is inhibitory. A developmental switch in the molecular machinery controlling the polarity of this current is responsible for the changes in the functional role of GABA between the neonatal and adult stages. That is to say, GABA's role changes from excitatory to inhibitory as the brain develops into adulthood.

tructure and conformation

GABA is found mostly as a zwitterion, that is, with the carboxyl group deprotonated and the amino group protonated. Its conformation depends on its environment. In the gas phase, a highly folded conformation is strongly favored because of the electrostatic attraction between the two functional groups. The stabilization is about 50 kcal/mol, according to quantum chemistry calculations. In the solid state, a more extended conformation is found, with a trans conformation at the amino end and a gauche conformation at the carboxyl end. This is due to the packing interactions with the neighboring molecules. In solution, five different conformations, some folded and some extended are found as a result of solvation effects. The conformational flexibility of GABA is important for its biological function, as it has been found to bind to different receptors with different conformations. Many GABA analogues with pharmaceutical applications have more rigid structures in order to control the binding better. [Devashis Majumdar and Sephali Guha. Conformation, electrostatic potential and pharmacophoric pattern of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and several GABA inhibitors. "Journal of Molecular Structure: THEOCHEM" 1988, "180", 125-140. doi|10.1016/0166-1280(88)80084-8] [Anne-Marie Sapse. "Molecular Orbital Calculations for Amino Acids and Peptides". Birkhäuser, 2000. ISBN 0817638938.]


Gamma-aminobutyric acid was first synthesized in 1883, and was first known only as a plant and microbe metabolic product. In 1950, however, GABA was discovered to be an integral part of the mammalian central nervous system.cite book | author = Roth, Robert J.; Cooper, Jack R.; Bloom, Floyd E. | title = The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology | publisher = Oxford University Press | location = Oxford [Oxfordshire] | year = 2003 | pages = 416 pages | isbn = 0-19-514008-7 | oclc = | doi = ]


Organisms synthesize GABA from glutamate using the enzyme L-glutamic acid decarboxylase and pyridoxal phosphate as a cofactor. It is worth noting that this process converts the principal excitatory neurotransmitter (glutamate) into the principal inhibitory one (GABA).


Drugs that act as agonists of GABA receptors (known as GABA analogues or "GABAergic" drugs) or increase the available amount of GABA typically have relaxing, anti-anxiety and anti-convulsive effects. Many of the substances below are known to cause anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia.

GABA has been purported to increase the amount of the Human Growth Hormone. The results of those studies have been seldom replicated, and have recently been in question since it is unknown whether GABA can pass the blood-brain barrier.

Drugs that affect GABA receptors:
* alcohol (ethanol)cite journal | author = Dzitoyeva S, Dimitrijevic N, Manev H | title = Gamma-aminobutyric acid B receptor 1 mediates behavior-impairing actions of alcohol in Drosophila: adult RNA interference and pharmacological evidence | journal = Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. | volume = 100 | issue = 9 | pages = 5485–90 | year = 2003 | pmid = 12692303 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.0830111100 ] cite journal | author = Mihic SJ, Ye Q, Wick MJ, Koltchine VV, Krasowski MD, Finn SE, Mascia MP, Valenzuela CF, Hanson KK, Greenblatt EP, Harris RA, Harrison NL | title = Sites of alcohol and volatile anaesthetic action on GABAA and glycine receptors | journal = Nature | volume = 389 | issue = 6649 | pages = 385–9 | year = 1997 | pmid = 9311780 | doi = 10.1038/38738 ] cite journal | author = Boehm SL, Ponomarev I, Blednov YA, Harris RA | title = From gene to behavior and back again: new perspectives on GABAA receptor subunit selectivity of alcohol actions | journal = Adv. Pharmacol. | volume = 54 | issue = | pages = 171–203 | year = 2006 | pmid = 17175815 | doi = 10.1016/j.bcp.2004.07.023 ]

* avermectins—doramectin, selamectin, ivermectin
* barbiturates
* bicucullines - GABA antagonist
* benzodiazepinesDiaz, Jaime. How Drugs Influence Behavior. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1996.]
* baclofen
* baicalin and baicalein from skullcap scutellaria lateriflora
* carbamazepinescite journal | author = Granger P, Biton B, Faure C, Vige X, Depoortere H, Graham D, Langer SZ, Scatton B, Avenet P | title = Modulation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor by the antiepileptic drugs carbamazepine and phenytoin | journal = Mol. Pharmacol. | volume = 47 | issue = 6 | pages = 1189–96 | year = 1995 | pmid = 7603459 | doi = | issn = | url =]
* cyclopyrrolone derivatives such as zopiclone
* fluoroquinolones
* gabazine (SR-95531)
* gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)cite journal | author = Dimitrijevic N, Dzitoyeva S, Satta R, Imbesi M, Yildiz S, Manev H | title = Drosophila GABAB receptors are involved in behavioral effects of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) | journal = Eur. J. Pharmacol. | volume = 519 | issue = 3 | pages = 246–52 | year = 2005 | pmid = 16129424 | doi = 10.1016/j.ejphar.2005.07.016 ]
* gamma-amino-beta-hydroxybutyric acid
* imidazopyridine derivatives such as zolpidem
* kavalactonescite journal | author=Hunter, A | title=Kava (Piper methysticum) back in circulation | journal=Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine | volume=25 | issue=7 | year=2006 | pages=529]
* meprobamate
* muscimol
* manganese
* modafinil
* phenytoin
* picamilon
* picrotoxin
* progabide
* propofol
* phenibut
* pyrazolopyrimidine derivatives such as zaleplon
* thujone—GABA antagonist
* Valerian extract

Drugs that affect GABA in other ways:
* tiagabine—potentiates by inhibiting uptake into neurons and glia
* vigabatrin—potentiates by inhibiting GABA-T, preventing GABA breakdown
* valproate—potentiates by inhibiting GABA-T
* tetanospasmin—primary toxin of tetanus bacteria, blocks release of GABA
* hyperforin—inhibits the reuptake of GABA

ee also

* Spastic diplegia, a GABA deficiency neuromuscular neuropathology


External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — var of GAMMA AMINOBUTYRIC ACID gam·ma ami·no·bu·tyr·ic acid also gamma ami·no·bu·tyr·ic acid .gam ə ə .mē (.)nō byü .tir ik , .gam ə .am ə (.)nō n an amino acid C4H9NO2 that is a neurotransmitter that induces inhibition of postsynaptic neurons… …   Medical dictionary

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — ¦gamə.ə¦mē(ˌ)nō, mə¦amə̇(ˌ)nōˌ… noun also γ aminobutyric acid Etymology: gamma (II) + amin + butyric acid : an amino acid C4H9NO2 that is a neurotransmitter that induces inhibition of postsynaptic neurons abbreviation GABA …   Useful english dictionary

  • gamma aminobutyric acid — noun an amino acid that is found in the central nervous system; acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter • Syn: ↑GABA • Hypernyms: ↑amino acid, ↑aminoalkanoic acid, ↑neurotransmitter …   Useful english dictionary

  • gamma aminobutyric acid — n. amino acid found in the central nervous system; amino acid that acts as suppressive neurotransmitter, GABA …   English contemporary dictionary

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — noun Date: 1957 an amino acid C4H9NO2 that is a neurotransmitter which induces inhibition of postsynaptic neurons …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — /gam euh euh mee noh byooh tir ik, am euh noh /. See GABA. [1960 65; AMINO + BUTYRIC ACID] * * * …   Universalium

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — noun An amino acid found in the nervous systems of vertebrates and acting as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Abbreviated as GABA …   Wiktionary

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — GABA an amino acid found in the central nervous system, predominantly in the brain, where it acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid — gam′ma a•mi•no•bu•tyr′ic ac′id [[t]ˈgæm ə əˌmi noʊ byuˈtɪr ɪk, ˌæm ə noʊ [/t]] n. biochem. See GABA • Etymology: 1960–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • Кислота Гаммааминобутуровая (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (Gaba)) — аминокислота, присутствующая в центральной нервной системе (главным образом в головном мозге), где она действует как ингибитор нейромедиаторов. Источник: Медицинский словарь …   Медицинские термины

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