Background: Currently, treatment of stress-related gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is mainly symptomatic since there is no drug on the market that solves effectively diverse disease symptoms and comorbid states. Recently GABA receptors have been identified within gastrointestinal system and it has been recognized that among various GABAergic drugs some of them influence gastrointestinal stress-related diseases. Among them benzodiazepines have been investigated due to their diverse effects: neuroimmunomodulatory, relief of visceral pain and anxiolytic action.
Conclusion: The present review brings findings on the expression of GABA receptors in the gastrointestinal tract and the role of GABA within it. We also present knowledge on the role of neurotransmitter GABA and various GABAergic ligands on diverse physiologic gastrointestinal functions with special emphasize to stress-related disorders. The rationale for therapeutic use and further identification of a potential GABAergic treatment of stress-related disorders has been critically discussed.