Effects of GABAA-, barbiturate- and benzodiazepine receptor agonists and GABAB agonist, baclofen, on voltage-dependent Ca2+ current (ICa) were studied in isolated frog sensory neurons after suppression of Na+ and K+ currents using single-electrode voltage-clamp. GABA, muscimol, taurine and pentobarbital (PB) dose-dependently induced a transient Cl- current (ICl), while baclofen and diazepam (DZP) did not elicit any currents. With GABAA agonists such as GABA, muscimol and taurine, ICa was suppressed transiently, and the maximum inhibition of ICa occurred within 1 min. The suppression of ICa by all GABAA agonists was neither voltage dependent nor attenuated in the presence of either bicuculline or picrotoxin. In addition, there was no correlation between GABA- and baclofen-induced suppressions of ICa. The results suggest that the inhibition of ICa by GABAA receptor agonists is not due to either GABAA or GABAB receptor activation at least. The inhibition of ICa by baclofen, PB and DZP was persistent. PB suppressed the amplitude of ICa and also facilitated the inactivation process, suggesting that PB behaves as a Ca channel blocker. However, the mechanisms of ICa suppression by baclofen and DZP are the subject for a future study. The potency order of the drugs in reducing ICa was muscimol > GABA = DZP > baclofen > PB > taurine.
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