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New insights into the role of the GABAA–benzodiazepine receptor in psychiatric disorder

  • David J. Nutt (a1) and Andrea L. Malizia (a1)



In the 40 years since the first benzodiazepine was brought into clinical use there has been a substantial growth in understanding the molecular basis of action of these drugs and the role of their receptors in disease states.


To present current knowledge about the role of the GABAA–benzodiazepine receptor in anxiety disorders, new insights into the molecular biology of the receptor complex and neuroimaging studies suggesting involvement of these receptors in disease states.


An overview of published literature, including some recent data.


The molecular biology of this receptor is detailed. Molecular genetic studies suggesting involvement of the GABAA–benzodiazepine receptor in animal behaviour and learning are outlined; possible parallels with human psychopathology are discussed.


Current insights into the role of the GABAA–benzodiazepine receptor in the action of benzodiazepines and as a factor in disease states, in both animals and humans, may lead to new, more sophisticated interventions at this receptor complex and potentially significant therapeutic gains.


Corresponding author

D. J. Nutt, Psychopharmacology Unit, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Walk, Bristol BS8 ITD, UK. Tel: 0117 925 3066; fax: 0117 927 7057; e-mail: David. J.


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Declaration of interest

D. J. N. has received grants from various pharmaceutical companies with an interest in drugs acting at the GABA–benzodiazepine receptor.



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New insights into the role of the GABAA–benzodiazepine receptor in psychiatric disorder

  • David J. Nutt (a1) and Andrea L. Malizia (a1)
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