Cerebellar α6-subunit-containing GABAA receptors: a novel therapeutic target for disrupted prepulse inhibition in neuropsychiatric disorders

L.-C. Chiou, H.-J. Lee, M. Ernst, W.-J. Huang, J.-F. Chou, H.-L. Chen, A. Mouri, L.-C. Chen, M. Treven, T. Mamiya, P.-C. Fan, D.E. Knutson, C. Witzigmann, J. Cook, W. Sieghart, T. Nabeshima

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: The pathophysiological role of α6-subunit-containing GABAA receptors, which are mainly expressed in cerebellar granule cells, remains unclear. Recently, we demonstrated that hispidulin, a flavonoid isolated from a local herb that remitted a patient's intractable motor tics, attenuated methamphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion in mice as a positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of cerebellar α6GABAA receptors. Here, using hispidulin and a selective α6GABAA receptor PAM, the pyrazoloquinolinone Compound 6, we revealed an unprecedented role of cerebellar α6GABAA receptors in disrupted prepulse inhibition of the startle response (PPI), which reflects sensorimotor gating deficits manifested in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Experimental Approach: PPI disruptions were induced by methamphetamine and NMDA receptor antagonists in mice. Effects of the tested compounds were measured in Xenopus oocytes expressing recombinant α6β3γ2SGABAA receptors. Key Results: Hispidulin given i.p. or by bilateral intracerebellar (i.cb.) injection rescued PPI disruptions induced by methamphetamine, ketamine, MK-801 and phencyclidine. Intracerebellar effects of hispidulin were mimicked by Ro15-4513 and loreclezole (two α6GABAA receptor PAMs), but not by diazepam (an α6GABAA receptor-inactive benzodiazepine) and were antagonized by furosemide (i.cb.), an α6GABAA receptor antagonist. Importantly, Compound 6 (i.p.) also rescued methamphetamine-induced PPI disruption, an effect prevented by furosemide (i.cb.). Both hispidulin and Compound 6 potentiated α6β3γ2SGABAA receptor-mediated GABA currents. Conclusions and Implications: Positive allosteric modulation of cerebellar α6GABAA receptors rescued disrupted PPI by attenuating granule cell activity. α6GABAA receptor-selective PAMs are potential medicines for treating sensorimotor gating deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders. A mechanistic hypothesis is based on evidence for cerebellar contributions to cognitive functioning including sensorimotor gating. © 2018 The British Pharmacological Society
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2414-2427
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • 4 aminobutyric acid A receptor alpha6
  • 4 aminobutyric acid A receptor alpha6beta3gamma25
  • 8 azido 5,6 dihydro 5 methyl 6 oxo 4h imidazo[1,5 a][1,4]benzodiazepine 3 carboxylic acid ethyl ester
  • dizocilpine
  • furosemide
  • hispidulin
  • ketamine
  • loreclezole
  • methamphetamine
  • n methyl dextro aspartic acid receptor blocking agent
  • phencyclidine
  • unclassified drug
  • allosterism
  • animal experiment
  • Article
  • controlled study
  • drug antagonism
  • drug potentiation
  • electrophysiology
  • male
  • mouse
  • nonhuman
  • oocyte
  • prepulse inhibition
  • priority journal
  • protein expression
  • protein function
  • protein targeting
  • voltage clamp technique
  • Xenopus laevis


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