Benzodiazepines belong to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics. The benzodiazepine molecule binds to the subtype A portion of the protein receptor of the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter substance in the brain, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). The simultaneous binding of the endogenous neurotransmitter GABA on the GABA-A postsynaptic receptor increases the frequency of the opening of the chloride channel, allowing greater amounts of this negatively charged anion, chloride, to rapidly enter the cell due to the concentration gradient. The additional entry of chloride into the cytoplasm hyperpolarizes the cell, which reduces depolarization, or firing, of the cell. Hence, greater stimulation is required for cell firing. This is known as the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor complex (Stahl 2004).
Benzodiazepines have wide-ranging effects. Their popular use is reflected in their anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, sedative, anesthetic,...
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