The effects of benzodiazepine and non-benzodiazepine anxiolytics on locus coeruleus unit activity

M. K. Sanghera, D. C. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Two theories have been put forth concerning the anxiolytic actions of the anti-anxiety drugs. One theory maintains that these drugs decrease locus coeruleus output, and the other maintains that they facilitate gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission at benzodiazepine (BZ)-linked GABA receptors. The BZ-anxiolytic diazepam does decrease locus coeruleus neuronal impulse flow. However, this decrease is not due to effects on BZ-linked GABA receptors in the locus coeruleus. Furthermore, the non-BZ anxiolytic buspirone, its metabolite and its analog all slightly increase locus coeruleus neuronal impulse flow. This increase, in the case of the metabolite, appears to be due, in part, to blockade of α2-adrenoceptors. Finally, buspirone, unlike diazepam, did not potentiate GABA inhibition at BZ-linked GABA receptor sites (i.e. cerebellar Purkinje cells). These data suggest that the non-BZ anxiolytic buspirone produces its anti-anxiety effects by unconventional mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1983


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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