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Evidence That Sedative Effects of Benzodiazepines Involve Unexpected GABAA Receptor Subtypes: Quantitative Observation Studies in Rhesus Monkeys. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2018 07;366(1):145-157



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2-s2.0-85054826868   12 Citations


In nonhuman primates we tested a new set of behavioral categories for observable sedative effects using pediatric anesthesiology classifications as a basis. Using quantitative behavioral observation techniques in rhesus monkeys, we examined the effects of alprazolam and diazepam (nonselective benzodiazepines), zolpidem (preferential binding to α1 subunit-containing GABAA receptors), HZ-166 (8-ethynyl-6-(2'-pyridine)-4H-2,5,10b-triaza-benzo[e]azulene-3-carboxylic acid ethyl ester; functionally selective with relatively high intrinsic efficacy for α2 and α3 subunit-containing GABAA receptors), MRK-696 [7-cyclobutyl-6-(2-methyl-2H-1,2,4-triazol-2-ylmethoxy)-3-(2-flurophenyl)-1,2,4-triazolo(4,3-b)pyridazine; no selectivity but partial intrinsic activity], and TPA023B 6,2'-diflouro-5'-[3-(1-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)imidazo[1,2-b][1,2,4]triazin-7-yl]biphenyl-2-carbonitrile; partial intrinsic efficacy and selectivity for α2, α3, α5 subunit-containing GABAA receptors]. We further examined the role of α1 subunit-containing GABAA receptors in benzodiazepine-induced sedative effects by pretreating animals with the α1 subunit-preferring antagonist β-carboline-3-carboxylate-t-butyl ester (βCCT). Increasing doses of alprazolam and diazepam resulted in the emergence of observable ataxia, rest/sleep posture, and moderate and deep sedation. In contrast, zolpidem engendered dose-dependent observable ataxia and deep sedation but not rest/sleep posture or moderate sedation, and HZ-166 and TPA023 induced primarily rest/sleep posture. MRK-696 induced rest/sleep posture and observable ataxia. Zolpidem, but no other compounds, significantly increased tactile/oral exploration. The sedative effects engendered by alprazolam, diazepam, and zolpidem generally were attenuated by βCCT pretreatments, whereas rest/sleep posture and suppression of tactile/oral exploration were insensitive to βCCT administration. These data suggest that α2/3-containing GABAA receptor subtypes unexpectedly may mediate a mild form of sedation (rest/sleep posture), whereas α1-containing GABAA receptors may play a role in moderate/deep sedation.

Author List

Duke AN, Meng Z, Platt DM, Atack JR, Dawson GR, Reynolds DS, Tiruveedhula VVNPB, Li G, Stephen MR, Sieghart W, Cook JM, Rowlett JK


James M. Cook PhD University Distinguished Professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Behavior, Animal
Hypnotics and Sedatives
Macaca mulatta
Receptors, GABA-A