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Current Drug Targets - CNS & Neurological Disorders


ISSN (Print): 1568-007X
ISSN (Online): 1568-007X

GABAA Receptor Subtype Selective Cognition Enhancers

Author(s): Karen Maubach

Volume 2, Issue 4, 2003

Page: [233 - 239] Pages: 7

DOI: 10.2174/1568007033482779

Price: $65


Currently the treatment of Alzheimers disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is largely unrealised, with no preventive or curative therapies. The marketed acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (eg. donepezil, Aricept) are directed toward temporary symptomatic relief from impaired cognition, but have prominent adverse effects with minimal efficacy. In pursuit of novel cognition enhancers, the observation that classical benzodiazepines (BZ, eg. diazepam) are amnesic, coupled with the preservation of GABAA receptors in brain areas most affected by AD, highlighted the GABAA receptor as a potential therapeutic target. In contrast to the amnesic BZ agonists, the BZ inverse agonists (eg. DMCM) which attenuate GABAA receptor function, have been shown to improve performance in animal models of learning and memory. Unfortunately, such nonselective ligands also induce anxiety and convulsions. More recently, novel ligands have been developed (eg. 6,6-dimethyl-3-(2-hydroxyethyl)thio-1-(thiazol-2-yl)-6,7-dihydro-2-benzothiophen-4(5H)-one) that demonstrate binding selectivity and high inverse agonism for the α5 GABAA receptor subtype, which is preferentially located in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory. Preclinical results are encouraging, since these α5 selective inverse agonists enhance memory in animal models, such as spatial learning in the Morris water-maze, but are devoid of the adverse effects associated with activity at other GABAA receptor subtypes in other brain regions. If the efficacy and safety profiles of α5 inverse agonists in humans prove to be similar to those seen in pre-clinical studies, these compounds would offer significant benefit to AD and MCI patients.

Keywords: gaba, cognition, benzodiazepine, learning, memory, water-maze

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