Presence of an Endogenous Factor in Avian CNS with Agonistic Action on Benzodiazepine Receptors

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In the present paper we describe the presence in avian CNS of an endogenous inhibitor of [3H]flunitrazepam binding. This compound was extracted from a synaptic membrane fraction isolated from chick optic lobe and brain using an exhaustive aqueous washing procedure, then purified by means of solid-phase extraction with C18 cartridges and several HPLC steps until an homogeneous peak was obtained. Its chemical structure was studied by size-exclusion chromatography of the purified material which indicated that it possesses a molecular weight below 1350. Although its inhibitory activity was lost by HCl treatment, its peptidic nature was ruled out by an amino acid and N-terminal sequence analyses. Ultraviolet absorption spectrum showed two main peaks at 230 and 280 nm. The endogenous compound was found to inhibit competitively [3H]flunitrazepam binding to its recognition site without affecting [3H]GABA binding to the same receptor complex. The behavior of the endogenous factor in an “in vitro” GABA “shift” test and GABA-dependent chloride flux experiments were similar to that of benzodiazepine receptor agonists. In conclusion, these results demonstrate the existence in avian CNS of a competitive endogenous inhibitor of benzodiazepine binding with agonistic action on benzodiazepine receptors.

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