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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Jan 2022 - 14 Jan 2022

2022 Jan

Pharmacol Rev



6-Containing GABA Receptors: Functional Roles and Therapeutic Potentials.


Sieghart W, Chiou L-C, Ernst M, Fabjan J, M Savić M, Lee M T
Pharmacol Rev. 2022 Jan; 74(1):238-270.
PMID: 35017178.


GABA receptors containing the 6 subunit are highly expressed in cerebellar granule cells and less abundantly in many other neuronal and peripheral tissues. Here, we for the first time summarize their importance for the functions of the cerebellum and the nervous system. The cerebellum is not only involved in motor control but also in cognitive, emotional, and social behaviors. 62 GABA receptors located at cerebellar Golgi cell/granule cell synapses enhance the precision of inputs required for cerebellar timing of motor activity and are thus involved in cognitive processing and adequate responses to our environment. Extrasynaptic 6 GABA receptors regulate the amount of information entering the cerebellum by their tonic inhibition of granule cells, and their optimal functioning enhances input filtering or contrast. The complex roles of the cerebellum in multiple brain functions can be compromised by genetic or neurodevelopmental causes that lead to a hypofunction of cerebellar 6-containing GABA receptors. Animal models mimicking neuropsychiatric phenotypes suggest that compounds selectively activating or positively modulating cerebellar 6-containing GABA receptors can alleviate essential tremor and motor disturbances in Angelman and Down syndrome as well as impaired prepulse inhibition in neuropsychiatric disorders and reduce migraine and trigeminal-related pain via 6-containing GABA receptors in trigeminal ganglia. Genetic studies in humans suggest an association of the human GABA receptor 6 subunit gene with stress-associated disorders. Animal studies support this conclusion. Neuroimaging and post-mortem studies in humans further support an involvement of 6-containing GABA receptors in various neuropsychiatric disorders, pointing to a broad therapeutic potential of drugs modulating 6-containing GABA receptors. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: 6-Containing GABA receptors are abundantly expressed in cerebellar granule cells, but their pathophysiological roles are widely unknown, and they are thus out of the mainstream of GABA receptor research. Anatomical and electrophysiological evidence indicates that these receptors have a crucial function in neuronal circuits of the cerebellum and the nervous system, and experimental, genetic, post-mortem, and pharmacological studies indicate that selective modulation of these receptors offers therapeutic prospects for a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders and for stress and its consequences.