In the mid seventies a drug design programme using the Amanita muscaria constituent muscimol (7) as a lead structure, led to the design of guvacine (23) and (R)-nipecotic acid (24) as specific GABA uptake inhibitors and the isomeric compounds isoguvacine (10) and isonipecotic acid (11) as specific GABAA receptor agonists. The availability of these compounds made it possible to study the pharmacology of the GABA uptake systems and the GABAA receptors separately. Based on extensive cellular and molecular pharmacological studies using 23, 24, and a number of mono-and bicyclic analogues, it has been demonstrated that neuronal and glial GABA transport mechanisms have dissimilar substrate specificities. With GABA transport mechanisms as pharmacological targets, strategies for pharmacological interventions with the purpose of stimulating GABA neurotransmission seem to be (1) effective blockade of neuronal as well as glial GABA uptake in order to enhance the inhibitory effects of synaptically released GABA, or (2) selective blockade of glial GABA uptake in order to increase the amount of GABA taken up into, and subsequently released from, nerve terminals. The bicyclic compound (R)-N-Me-exo-THPO (17) has recently been reported as the most selective glial GABA uptake inhibitor so far known and may be a useful tool for further elucidation of the pharmacology of GABA transporters. In recent years, a variety of lipophilic analogues of the amino acids 23 and 24 have been developed, and one of these compounds, tiagabine (49) containing (R)-nipecotic acid (24) as the GABA transport carrier-recognizing structure element, is now marketed as an antiepileptic agent.
Keywords: GABA Uptake Inhibitors, Amanita muscaria, Muscimol, Guvacine, R nipecotic, Isoguvacine, isonipecortic acid, GABA transporters, Tiagabine, Nipecotic acid, Glutamic acid, Decarboxylase GAD, GABA analoghues, Lipophilic blood brain barrier BBB
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