HEPATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY AND THE γ-AMINOBUTYRIC-ACID NEUROTRANSMITTER SYSTEM

DanielF Schafer, E. Anthony Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

218 Scopus citations

Abstract

γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter of the mammalian brain, is synthesised by gut bacteria. In a rabbit model the development of hepatic encephalopathy was associated with increased levels of GABA in plasma, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, increased numbers of binding-sites for GABA and benzodiazepines in the brain, and a pattern of neural activity similar to that induced by drugs which activate the GABA neurotransmitter system. It is postulated that in liver failure gut-derived GABA passes through a permeable blood-brain barrier and induces its own receptors in the brain, that gut-derived GABA contributes to the neural inhibition of hepatic encephalopathy, and that an increased number of drugbinding sites mediates enhanced sensitivity to barbiturates and benzodiazepines in liver failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-20
Number of pages3
JournalThe Lancet
Volume319
Issue number8262
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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