The benzodiazepines are potent anticonvulsants for a wide variety of experimental and clinical seizure disorders1,2. The demonstration of saturable, high-affinity and stereospecific binding sites for the benzodiazepines in the mammalian central nervous system suggests the presence of pharmacological receptors mediating the anticonvulsant properties of these compounds3,4. The good correlation between the anticonvulsant potencies of a series of benzodiazepines and their ability to inhibit 3H-diazepam binding in vitro further supports this hypothesis3,4, but evidence for a direct interaction between benzodiazepines and their receptors, and a subsequent inhibition of seizure activity (or elevation of seizure threshold) is lacking5. Recent reports from our laboratory6 and others7 have demonstrated the feasibility of labelling benzodiazepine receptors in vivo following parental administration of tritiated benzodiazepine. This technique permits one to study the relationship between the anticonvulsant activity of the benzodiazepines in vivo and the number of ‘drug-occupied’ receptors in vitro. We now report that there is an excellent correlation between benzodiazepine receptor occupancy by diazepam and protection against pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that only a small fraction of benzodiazepine receptors need be occupied to produce a complete anticonvulsant effect.
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Paul, S., Syapin, P., Paugh, B. et al. Correlation between benzodiazepine receptor occupation and anticonvulsant effects of diazepam. Nature 281, 688–689 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/281688a0
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