Tonic GABAA receptor-mediated currents in human brain

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GABAA receptors can mediate both phasic (synaptic) and tonic (extrasynaptic) forms of inhibition. It has been proposed that tonic inhibition plays a critical part in controlling neuronal and network excitability. Although tonic GABAA receptor-mediated currents have been well characterized in rodents, their existence in human tissue has yet to be demonstrated. Here we show that tonic currents can be recorded from human tissue obtained from patients undergoing temporal lobectomies. Tonic GABAA receptor-mediated currents were present in pyramidal cells and interneurons in layer V-VI of temporal neocortex and granule cells in the dentate gyrus. These tonic currents have cell type-specific pharmacologies, opening up the possibility of targeted therapeutics.

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