The GABAA receptor antagonist picrotoxin inhibits 5-hydroxytryptamine type 3A receptors

P. Das, C. L. Bell-Horner, T. K. Machu, G. H. Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


For a number of years it has been known that the CNS convulsant picrotoxin inhibits the GABAA receptor, an anion-selective member of the ligand-gated ion channel (LGIC) superfamily. PTX also inhibits other anion-selective LGIC members, such as GABAC, glycine and glutamate-gated Cl- channels. In the present report, we tested the ability of picrotoxin to inhibit cation-selective 5-HT3A receptors. Murine 5-HT3A receptors were expressed in HEK293 cells, and functionally evaluated using whole-cell patch clamp recording. Picrotoxin inhibited 5-HT-gated currents in a concentration-dependent manner, with an IC50 of approximately 30 μM. Moreover, the blockade by PTX was non-competitive and use-facilitated. Pentylenetetrazole and U-93631, ligands that act at a domain similar to that of picrotoxin in GABAA receptors, also inhibited the 5-HT3A receptor. For each ligand tested, its potency was 5-10 fold lower than typically observed in GABAA receptors. Our results demonstrate that, in addition to being a relatively non-selective inhibitor of anionic LGICs, picrotoxin also inhibits the cation-selective 5-HT3A receptor. Moreover, the fact that both PTZ and U-93631 similarly inhibit the 5-HT3A receptor is consistent with the suggestion that the site of picrotoxin action in this receptor may be comparable to that in anion-selective LGICs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • 5-Hydroxytryptamine
  • Anion-selective
  • Cation-selective
  • Ligand-gated ion channel
  • Picrotoxin
  • Whole-cell patch clamp


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