Imidazopyridines as a tool for the characterization of benzodiazepine receptors: a proposal for a pharmacological classification as omega receptor subtypes

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1988 Apr;29(4):763-6. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(88)90202-x.


At present, the nomenclature of benzodiazepine (BZ) receptors is based on its historical association with the BZ structure. However, it is mainly through the new compounds chemically unrelated to BZs that the central and peripheral subtypes of BZ receptors have been characterized. We therefore propose the nomenclature of a greek letter omega, as omega 1, omega 2 and omega 3 to designate respectively the central BZ1, BZ2 and the peripheral BZ receptor. Among the several classes of non-BZ drugs with affinity for different receptors, the imidazopyridines provide a valuable tool for the characterization of omega receptor subtypes. Most BZs are non selective ligands for the central omega 1 and omega 2 receptors while the selectivity for omega 1 receptor subtypes is present in several non BZ chemical series: imidazopyridines (zolpidem), triazolopyridazines (CL 218872), betacarbolines (beta-CCE) and pyrazoloquinolines (CGS 8216). Selective ligands for the omega 2 subtype are not available so far. The so called peripheral BZ receptor is also present in the central nervous system, therefore the proposed nomenclature of omega 3 receptors resolves this paradox because it does not designate location and it is defined in terms of pharmacological specificity. Selective ligands for omega 3 receptors include the BZ Ro 5-4864, and the isoquinolinecarboxamide PK 11195, while the imidazopyridine alpidem is the ligand with the highest affinity for this receptor subtype.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Flunitrazepam / metabolism
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Imidazoles / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Isoquinolines / metabolism
  • Kidney / analysis
  • Ligands
  • Pyridazines / metabolism
  • Pyridines / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / classification
  • Spinal Cord / analysis
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Zolpidem


  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Imidazoles
  • Isoquinolines
  • Ligands
  • Pyridazines
  • Pyridines
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Flunitrazepam
  • CL 218872
  • Zolpidem
  • alpidem
  • PK 11195