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Review
, 43, 629-43

Mechanism of Action of Clonazepam in Myoclonus in Relation to Effects on GABA and 5-HT

  • PMID: 2418652
Review

Mechanism of Action of Clonazepam in Myoclonus in Relation to Effects on GABA and 5-HT

P Jenner et al. Adv Neurol.

Abstract

Clonazepam is a potent anticonvulsant 1,4-benzodiazepine that controls some types of myoclonus. Its primary mode of action is to facilitate GABAergic transmission in the brain by a direct effect on benzodiazepine receptors. GABA receptors lie on the cell bodies of dorsal raphe neurons, and GABA acts to inhibit raphe cell firing, an action potentiated by benzodiazepines. Clonazepam does not alter 5-HT synthesis but decreases 5-HT utilization in brain and blocks the egress of 5-HIAA from the brain. It is not known whether the actions of clonazepam in altering 5-HT function are responsible for its antimyoclonic action, since these are observed only after large doses. Also, the effects of clonazepam are the exact opposite of those predicted from the beneficial effects of 5-HTP in human myoclonic disorders. Finally, why clonazepam, more than other benzodiazepines, is of benefit in the treatment of myoclonus is not clear. This may be due to some pharmacokinetic feature of the drug in conjunction with its potency at benzodiazepine receptors.

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