Reversible modification of GABA(A) receptor subunit mRNA expression during tolerance to diazepam-induced cognition dysfunction

P. Longone, F. Impagnatiello, A. Guidotti, E. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Benzodiazepines (BZs) that are endowed with full positive allosteric modulatory (FAM) activity on GABA(A) receptors cause anterograde amnesia in both animals and humans. In rats subjected to a delayed object recognition test, diazepam, endowed with FAM activity, exerted an amnesic action, whereas BZs endowed with partial allosteric modulatory (PAM) activity on GABA(A) receptors, such as imidazenil, failed to induce amnesia, even if administered at doses five times higher than those equipotent to a standard anticonvulsant dose of diazepam (17.6 μmol/kg/os). After discontinuation of 14 days' treatment with vehicle, diazepam, or imidazenil (three times daily with increasing doses starting from 17.6 μmol/kg/os for diazepam and 2.5 μmol/kg/os for imidazenil), we compared the persistence of tolerance to the amnesic effect of diazepam with the persistence of the changes in the content of four (α1, α5, γ(2L), γ(2S)) GABA(A) receptor subunit mRNAs in the fronto-parietal motor (FrPaM) cortex and the hippocampus. Rats receiving the long-term treatment with diazepam developed a tolerance to the amnesic effect of this drug and showed a decrease (30-50%) in the expression of mRNAs encoding for α1, γ(2L), γ(2S) GABA(A) receptor subunits, an increase, by approximately 30%, of the expression of mRNA of the α5 subunit in the FrPaM cortex and a decrease, by approximately 25%, in the expression of mRNA, of the α1 subunit in the hippocampus. These changes of subunit mRNA expression and the tolerance to the amnesic effect of diazepam returned to control values 72 hr after termination of the long-term treatment with diazepam. No tolerance to the amnesic effect of diazepam and no changes in GABA(A) receptor subunit mRNA expression were found in rats undergoing long-term treatment with imidazenil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465-1473
Number of pages9
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 1996



  • Benzodiazepine
  • Cognitive disruption
  • GABA(A) receptors
  • Subunit messenger RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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