Behavioral effects of GABA agonists in relation to anxiety and benzodiazepine action

Life Sci. 1987 Jun 22;40(25):2429-36. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(87)90758-2.


A considerable body of biochemical and neurophysiological evidence implicates GABA in anxiety and in benzodiazepine action. The present article surveys the behavioral effects of GABA agonists and their interactions with drugs acting at the benzodiazepine receptor in animal anxiety paradigms. Certain GABA agonists, notably valproate, simulate many behavioral actions of benzodiazepines. Moreover, several behavioral studies of the interaction of GABA agonists with benzodiazepines support the hypothesis of a benzodiazepine receptor complex with one or more GABA, benzodiazepine and probably other binding sites. However, there are also a number of anomalous findings of GABA agonist action alone and in combination with benzodiazepines. It is argued that these paradoxical results can better be accounted for in terms of the receptor complex and the distribution of the drugs, rather than by suggesting that the anxiolytic actions of benzodiazepines are not mediated by GABA systems. The potential clinical usefulness of GABA agonists in anxiety is commented upon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents* / pharmacology*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Humans
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Benzodiazepines
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid