Severe and excessive anxiety is associated with irregular levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals ferry signals between nerve endings and regulate the activity of nerve cells. An inhibitory agent within the central nervous system, gamma aminobutyric acid (or GABA), is the most important blocker of this communication between neurons and helps control nerve cells from firing too fast. The GABAA receptor forms a closed channel that is triggered to open upon the binding of GABA. A rush of chloride ions through the open channel into the cell inhibits the release of neurotransmitters. In this way, drugs such as barbiturates and the benzodiazepines mentioned above decrease anxiety, induce sleep and even anesthesia.
Earlier studies by this group reveal that mice lacking the gene for PKCe have an increased sensitivity to alcohol, benzodiazepines and barbiturates. These observ
Contact: Brooke Grindlinger
Journal of Clinical Investigation