The indirect γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor agonist gabaculine-induced loss of the righting reflex may inhibit the descending analgesic pathway

Yuya Ogawa, Masahiro Irifune, Akari Mukai, Yoshitaka Shimizu, Mitsuru Doi, Kana Oue, Mitsuhiro Yoshida, Takashi Kanematsu, Norimitsu Morioka, Yoshihiro Nakata, Norio Sakai

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In the spinal cord, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) interneurons play an essential role in antinociception. However, not all actions of GABA favor antinociception at the supraspinal level. We previously reported that gabaculine, which increases endogenous GABA in the synaptic clefts, induces loss of the righting reflex (LORR) that is one indicator of hypnosis, but not immobility in response to noxious stimulus. A slow pain is transmitted to the spinal cord via C fibers and evokes substance P (SP) release from their terminals. However, the antinociceptive effects of gabaculine are still unknown. Our study examined whether the analgesic effects of the opioid morphine or the α2-adrenoceptor agonist dexmedetomidine, whose actions are mediated through facilitation of the descending analgesic pathway, are affected by gabaculine-induced LORR. We also explored the effects of GABA receptor agonists on SP release from cultured dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. All drugs were administered systemically to mice. To assess antinociception, loss of nociceptive response (analgesia) and immobility were evaluated. DRG cells were dissected from rats. Gabaculine produced no analgesia. Either morphine or dexmedetomidine in combination with gabaculine induced immobility; however, the doses of each drug required to induce immobility were much higher than those required to induce analgesia. Capsaicin significantly increased SP release from DRG cells, but a high concentration (1 mM) of the GABA receptor agonist muscimol, propofol, gaboxadol, or baclofen did not inhibit the capsaicin-induced SP release, suggesting that their antinociceptive effects were not through this mechanism. Thus, the gabaculine-induced LORR may inhibit the descending analgesic pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173034
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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