The Emerging Roles of π Subunit-Containing GABA A Receptors in Different Cancers

Int J Med Sci. 2021 Oct 31;18(16):3851-3860. doi: 10.7150/ijms.60928. eCollection 2021.


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in both developed and developing countries. Due to its heterogenous nature, it occurs in various regions of the body and often goes undetected until later stages of disease progression. Feasible treatment options are limited because of the invasive nature of cancer and often result in detrimental side-effects and poor survival rates. Therefore, recent studies have attempted to identify aberrant expression levels of previously undiscovered proteins in cancer, with the hope of developing better diagnostic tools and pharmaceutical options. One class of such targets is the π-subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors. Although these receptors were discovered more than 20 years ago, there is limited information available. They possess atypical functional properties and are expressed in several non-neuronal tissues. Prior studies have highlighted the role of these receptors in the female reproductive system. New research focusing on the higher expression levels of these receptors in ovarian, breast, gastric, cervical, and pancreatic cancers, their physiological function in healthy individuals, and their pro-tumorigenic effects in these cancer types is reviewed here.

Keywords: Cancer; GABAA receptors; female reproductive system; π subunit.

Publication types

  • Review