Prenatal Diazepam Exposure Functionally Alters the GABAA Receptor That Modulates [3H]Noradrenaline Release from Rat Hippocampal Synaptosomes

Carla Cannizzaro, Paolo Preziosi, Maria Martire, Silvia Maurizi, Debora Altobelli

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18 Citations (Scopus)


In rats, exposure to diazepam (DZ) during the last week of gestation is associated with behavioral alterations (in some cases sexually dimorphic) that appear when the animals reach adulthood. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of prenatal DZ exposure on the function of the -aminobutyric (GABA)A receptor complex. The method used - perfusion of rat hippocampal nerve terminals labeled with [3H]noradrenaline (NA) - allowed us to evaluate the effects of DZ on a specific native GABAA receptor subtype which is located on hippocampal noradrenergic nerve endings and mediates the release of NA. Muscimol stimulated synaptosomal release of [3H]NA in a concentration-dependent manner; maximal stimulation (50%) was achieved with a concentration of 30 µM, and the ED50 was 1.7 µM. The effect of muscimol was potentiated by the positive allosteric modulators DZ and 3-pregnan-5-ol-20-one (3,5-P; allopregnanolone), which displayed similar maximal effects and affinities. In the presence of DZ (0.1 µM), muscimol stimulated the release of [3H]NA with an ED50 of 0.5 µM; in the presence of 3,5-P (0.1 µM), the ED50 of muscimol was 0.3 µM. Prenatal DZ exposure did not modify the concentration-effect curve for muscimol, but it did abolish the potentiating effects of DZ and 3,5-P. These findings demonstrate that prenatal exposure to DZ produces functional modifications of the GABAA receptor subtype we investigated. This effect may be related to the relative contributions of the various protein subunits that compose the GABAA receptor complex. Exposure to DZ while the GABAA receptors are developing might influence the expression of these subunits, giving rise to a receptor that can be activated by muscimol but is not susceptible to allosteric modulation by DZ or 3,5-P.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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