GABAB receptors inhibit low-voltage activated and high-voltage activated Ca(2+) channels in sensory neurons via distinct mechanisms

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Sep 18;465(2):188-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.07.137. Epub 2015 Jul 31.


Growing evidence suggests that mammalian peripheral somatosensory neurons express functional receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABAA and GABAB. Moreover, local release of GABA by pain-sensing (nociceptive) nerve fibres has also been suggested. Yet, the functional significance of GABA receptor triggering in nociceptive neurons is not fully understood. Here we used patch-clamp recordings from small-diameter cultured DRG neurons to investigate effects of GABAB receptor agonist baclofen on voltage-gated Ca(2+) currents. We found that baclofen inhibited both low-voltage activated (LVA, T-type) and high-voltage activated (HVA) Ca(2+) currents in a proportion of DRG neurons by 22% and 32% respectively; both effects were sensitive to Gi/o inhibitor pertussis toxin. Inhibitory effect of baclofen on both current types was about twice less efficacious as compared to that of the μ-opioid receptor agonist DAMGO. Surprisingly, only HVA but not LVA current modulation by baclofen was partially prevented by G protein inhibitor GDP-β-S. In contrast, only LVA but not HVA current modulation was reversed by the application of a reducing agent dithiothreitol (DTT). Inhibition of T-type Ca(2+) current by baclofen and the recovery of such inhibition by DTT were successfully reconstituted in the expression system. Our data suggest that inhibition of LVA current in DRG neurons by baclofen is partially mediated by an unconventional signaling pathway that involves a redox mechanism. These findings reinforce the idea of targeting peripheral GABA receptors for pain relief.

Keywords: Baclofen; GABA(B) receptors; Nociceptor; Opioid receptor; Redox mechanisms; T-type Ca(2+) channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Baclofen / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Dithiothreitol / pharmacology
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)- / pharmacology
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal
  • Guanosine Diphosphate / analogs & derivatives
  • Guanosine Diphosphate / pharmacology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Nociception / physiology
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pertussis Toxin / pharmacology
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-B / metabolism*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / drug effects*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thionucleotides / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • Thionucleotides
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-
  • Guanosine Diphosphate
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • guanosine 5'-O-(2-thiodiphosphate)
  • Pertussis Toxin
  • Baclofen
  • Dithiothreitol