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The use of the antiepileptic drug, 4-aminobutyrate transaminase (GABA-T) inhibitor vigabatrin (VIGA), has been recently cautioned because it is associated to irreversible field defects from damage of the retina. Since novel GABA-T inhibitors might prove useful in epilepsy or other CNS pathologies as VIGA substitutes, the aim of the present investigation was to characterize the biochemical properties of some taurine analogues (TA) previously shown to act as GABA-T inhibitors. These include (±)piperidine-3-sulfonic acid (PSA), 2-aminoethylphosphonic acid (AEP), (±)2-acetylaminocyclohexane sulfonic acid (ATAHS) and 2-aminobenzenesulfonate (ANSA). Kinetic analysis of the activity of partially purified rabbit brain GABA-T in the presence of VIGA and TA showed that PSA and AEP caused a linear, mixed-type inhibition (Ki values 364 and 1010 μM, respectively), whereas VIGA, ANSA and ATAHS behaved like competitive inhibitors (Ki values 320, 434 and 598 μM, respectively). Among the compounds studied, only VIGA exerted a time-dependent, irreversible inhibition of the enzyme, with Ki and kinact values of 773 μM and 0.14 min-1, respectively. Furthermore, the ability of VIGA and TA to enhance GABA-ergic transmission was assessed in rabbit brain cortical slices by NMR quantitative analysis. The results demonstrate that VIGA as well as all TA promoted a significant increase of GABA content. In conclusion, PSA, ANSA and ATAHS, reversible GABA-T inhibitors with Ki values close to that of VIGA, represent a new class of compounds, susceptible of therapeutic exploitation in many disorders associated with low levels of GABA in brain tissues.