Benzodiazepines mechanism of action

Benzodiazepines and GABA receptors: an animation on their mechanism of action

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is an inhibiting neurotransmitter that is present on human brains. As shown in the animation, gamma amino butyric acid promotes opening of a postsynaptic receptor, the GABA-A receptor.

This opening leads to a increased conductance to cloride ions, which produces membrane hiperpolarization, this induces a neuronal inhibition.

The binding of benzodiazepines to the GABA-A receptor increases the affinity of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) and its receptor, thereby increasing the opening frecuency of GABA-A receptor.As a consequence of this, benzodiazepines potentiate GABAergic neurotransmission.

Drug list:

Some of the drugs included under the benzodiazepine class are:

  • Alprazolam
  • Diazepam
  • Flurazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Midazolam
  • Oxazepam
  • Prazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Triazolam

References:

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  • Modern Pharmacology with Clinical Applications, Sixth Edition by Charles Craig
  • Principles of Pharmacology: The Pathophysiologic Basis of Drug Therapy, Second Edition
    by David E Golan

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