Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and cell proliferation: focus on cancer cells

Histol Histopathol. 2006 Oct;21(10):1135-41. doi: 10.14670/HH-21.1135.


In addition to its role in the adult mammalian nervous system as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is involved in the proliferation, differentiation, and migration of several kinds of cells including cancer cells. GABA is synthesized predominantly from glutamate by glutamate decarboxylase and exerts its effects via ionotropic GABA(A) receptors and/or metabotropic GABA(B) receptors. In this review, the current state of knowledge regarding the role of the GABAergic system in peripheral nonneuronal cell proliferation is described, and recent advances in elucidation of the mechanisms leading to cell proliferation are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid