Modulation of rhythmic brain activity by diazepam: GABAA receptor subtype and state specificity

C. Kopp, U. Rudolph, K. Löw, I. Tobler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is involved in the generation of various brain rhythmic activities that can be modulated by benzodiazepines. Here, we assessed the contribution of α 2GABA type A (GABAA) receptors to the effects of benzodiazepines on sleep and waking oscillatory patterns by combining pharmacological and genetic tools. The effects of diazepam on the electroencephalogram were compared between α2(H101R) knock-in mice in which the α2GABAA receptor was rendered diazepam-insensitive, and their wild-type controls. The suppression of delta activity typically induced by diazepam in non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was significantly stronger in wild-type control mice than in α 2(H101R) mice. Moreover, electroencephalogram frequency activity above 16-18 Hz was enhanced in wild-type mice both in non-REM sleep and waking. This effect was absent in α2(H101R) mice. Theta activity was enhanced after diazepam both in REM sleep and in waking in wild-type mice. In α2(H101R) mice, this effect was markedly reduced in REM sleep whereas it persisted in waking. These findings suggest that α 2GABAA receptors, which are expressed in hypothalamic and pontine nuclei and in the hippocampus, are localized in distinct neural circuits relevant for the modulation of rhythmic brain activities by benzodiazepines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3674-3679
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 9 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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