Avermectin Bla Modulation of γ‐Aminobutyric Acid/Benzodiazepine Receptor Binding in Mammalian Brain

Richard W. Olsen, Adele M. Snowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Abstract: The anthelminthic natural product avermectin Bla (AVM) modulates the binding of γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA) and benzodiazepine (BZ) receptor ligands to membrane homogenates of mammalian brain. The potent (EC50= 40 nM) enhancement by AVM of [3H]diazepam binding to rat or bovine brain membranes resembled that of barbiturates and pyrazolopyridines in being inhibited (partially) by the convulsants picrotoxin, bicuculline, and strychnine, and by the anticonvulsants phenobarbital and chlormethiazole. The maximal effect of AVM was not increased by pentobarbital or etazolate. However, AVM affected BZ receptor subpopulations or conformational states in a manner different from pentobarbital. Further, unlike pentobarbital and etazolate, AVM did not inhibit allosterically the binding of the BZ receptor inverse agonist [3H]β‐carboline‐3‐carboxylate methyl ester, nor did it inhibit, but rather enhanced, the binding of the cage convulsant [35S]t‐butyl bicyclophosphorothionate to picrotoxin receptor sites. AVM at submicromolar concentrations had the opposite effect of pentobarbital and etazolate on GABA receptor binding, decreasing by half the high‐affinity binding of [3H]GABA and related agonist ligands, and increasing by over twofold the binding of the antagonist [3H]bicuculline methochloride, an effect that was potentiated by picrotoxin. AVM also reversed the enhancement of GABA agonists and inhibition of GABA antagonist binding by barbiturates and pyrazolopyridines. These overall effects of AVM are unique and require the presence of another separate drug receptor site on the GABA/BZ receptor complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1082
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Avermectin
  • Barbiturate
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Ionophore
  • Picrotoxin
  • Receptor
  • γ‐Aminobutyric Acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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