γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) activates synaptic GABAA receptors to generate inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. GABA also acts on extrasynaptic GABAA receptors, resulting in tonic inhibition. The physiological role of tonic inhibition, however, remains elusive. We explored the neurophysiological significance of tonic inhibition by testing whether selective activation of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors is sufficient to curb excitotoxicity. Tonic inhibition was selectively enhanced by increasing ambient GABA. In both acute hippocampal slices and cultured hippocampal neurons, boosting tonic inhibition alone is insufficient to withstand the hyper-excitability of hippocampal neurons induced by low-magnesium (Mg 2+) baths. Furthermore, selective activation of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors resulted in no significant neuroprotective effects against glutamate or low-Mg2+-induced neuronal cell deaths. These data imply that under physiological conditions extrasynaptic GABAA receptors are optimally activated by ambient GABA and that a further increase in extracellular GABA concentration will not significantly enhance the effect of tonic inhibition on neuronal excitability.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications|
|State||Published - 23 Dec 2005|
- Cultured neuron
- Neuronal excitability
- Patch clamp