Translocator protein (18kDa): new nomenclature for the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor based on its structure and molecular function

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Aug;27(8):402-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Jul 5.


The peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor or recognition site (PBR) is a widely distributed transmembrane protein that is located mainly in the outer mitochondrial membrane. The PBR binds to high-affinity drug ligands and cholesterol. Many functions are associated directly or indirectly with the PBR, including the regulation of cholesterol transport and the synthesis of steroid hormones, porphyrin transport and heme synthesis, apoptosis, cell proliferation, anion transport, regulation of mitochondrial functions and immunomodulation. Based on these functions, there are many potential clinical applications of PBR modulation, such as in oncologic, endocrine, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Although "PBR" is a widely used and accepted name in the scientific community, recent data regarding the structure and molecular function of this protein increasingly support renaming it to represent more accurately its subcellular role (or roles) and putative tissue-specific function (or functions). Translocator protein (18kDa) is proposed as a new name, regardless of the subcellular localization of the protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, GABA / chemistry*
  • Receptors, GABA / physiology*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / chemistry
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology*
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • TSPO protein, human