Effects of lorazepam tolerance and withdrawal on GABAA receptor operated chloride channels in mice selected for differences in ethanol withdrawal severity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Withdrawal seizure prone (WSP) and withdrawal seizure resistant (WSR) mice were treated with 5 mg/kg lorazepam for 7 days via implanted osmotic mini pumps. Following chronic drug treatment, brains were assayed for GABA-mediated chloride flux (GABA-Cl-). Under control (drug naive) conditions, brain membranes prepared from WSP and WSR lines did not differ in flunitrazepam or ethanol stimulation of GABA-mediated 36Cl- uptake, but the WSP lines were more sensitive to inhibition of 36Cl- flux by the inverse agonist, FG-7142. Membranes from lorazepam tolerant WSP and WSR mice were resistant to flunitrazepam- and ethanol-stimulation of GABA-Cl-. Withdrawal from chronic treatment, by an acute injection with the benzodiazepine antagonist RO15-1788, returned flunitrazepam stimulation of GABA-Cl- to near control levels in WSR membranes but not in WSP membranes and restored ethanol modulation of the channel to control levels in both lines. Inhibition of chloride flux by the benzodiazepine partial inverse agonist, FG-7142 was greater in membranes from WSP mice compared with WSR mice. Tolerance to lorazepam increased sensitivity of the WSR membranes to FG-7142 without altering the response in the WSP line. Again, withdrawal restored the Cl- flux response to FG-7142 back to near control levels. Lorazepam tolerance lowered [3H]-flunitrazepam binding affinity slightly only in the WSR strain with no change in binding number. Withdrawal from chronic lorazepam treatment produced no significant change in binding affinity or number. The initial genotypic differences in benzodiazepine inverse agonist sensitivity, may be related to the selection for withdrawal seizure severity. Chronic administration of lorazepam reduces the coupling between the benzodiazepine agonist site and the chloride channel and concomitantly increases coupling between the channel and the inverse agonist site, while withdrawal resets the receptor coupling back to control response levels. However, for the WSP line, this drug environment dependent shift in channel coupling bias appears to be deficient compared with the WSR line.

publication date

  • January 1, 1992