You may have heard aboutgamma aminobutyric acid and how it isrelated to nervous diseases and other disorders, as well as the creation of dietary supplements that seek to compensate for its deficiencies and other things.

How true is it all? Well, it is true thatthis substance is an important neurotransmitterwhose function is related to sleep, wakefulness, movement and much more.

However, the previous paragraph does not encapsulate the trueimportance of this neurotransmitter. Therefore, in the following article, we will explain in detail what it is, its function, the disorders related to its deficit and physiological importance.

What is gamma aminobutyric acid?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is the main neurotransmitter in thecentral nervous systemand spinal cord. Its main function isto act as a substance inhibitory of synaptic function. (1)

Note: Neurotransmitters are the substances produced by the neurons themselves, which are responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses, because they stimulate the adjacent neuron.

Some of these neurotransmittersact as excitatory substances, such as adrenaline. On the other hand, others have the opposite effect: they inhibit the transmission of nerve impulses. GABA falls into the second category.

What is gamma aminobutyric acid for?

The number of GABA receptorsare found in almost any tissue of the body, however their function has not been fully elucidated in these tissues. On the other hand, its function at the nervous level has been extensively investigated. Here are some examples:

1. Reduces neural activity

This is the main function of GABA tag. In this sense, its molecular effects prevent depolarization of neurons, strictly regulating neuronal electrical discharges.

2. Regulates cardiovascular mechanisms

Cardiovascular function is regulated by a number of neurohumoral mechanisms , , involving function of the brainstem, hypothalamus , and renal apparatus.

In this sense, within the nervous system, GABAergic neurons predominate in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, which is in charge of regulating the autonomic responses of the body , such as the elevation of blood pressure.

To highlight: When these neurons are activated , , effects are produced that counteract the sympathetic function , dilating the blood vessels and decreasing the number of times the heart contracts.

3. Intervenes in behavior

Movement, voluntary or not, is a complex process involving multiple neural pathways and structures, such as the basal nuclei and the cerebellum. In both, large numbers of GABA receptors have been located.

For example, striatal neurons of the globus pallidus release GABA, which activates the direct and indirect pathways of movement tag. This, in turn, causes a release of GABA in different areas of the the brain, , such as the motor cortex, inhibiting unwanted motor movements.

4. Participate in cognitive processes

Neuronal functioning and the plasticity of the brain, that is, its Ability to “shape” itself according to the stimuli it receives, depend in large part on the massive cellular and molecular complexity involved in synapses.

You should know: Depending on the region of the brain, the total percentage of GABAergic neurons can be up to 25% tag. Therefore, scientists are very interested in knowing what role they play in pathologies such asdepression or anxiety .

5. Induces sleep and relaxation

Many drugs, such as barbiturates and propofol, have sedative effects, used in anesthetic procedures. Its mechanism of action is topotentiate the effects of GABA

On the other hand, an excessive release of GABA Can lead to completely opposite effects, , such as hypersomnia and prolonged fatigue, where the person has difficulty staying active and alert throughout the day. (two)

Note: The deepest phase of sleep is characterized by slow, deep electrical activities , called delta waves. At this point, cortical activity is globally inhibited by GABA release.

6. Regulates anxiety and stress

Gamma aminobutyric acid is described by neuroscientist Datis Kharrazian as the neurotransmitter for calm and relaxation (3)

In this sense, the limbic system are structures responsible for generating and regulating our emotions . The Amygdala, , part of this system, is small but important: it is responsible for mediating the physiological responses of fear, anguish, stress and anger.

To highlight: The amygdala, in turn, is subdivided into various groups of nuclei, such as the basolateral, corticomedial and other groups. In the first two, we found a large number of GABAergic neurons (they use GABA).

7. Helps control fear

The amygdala participates in the regulation of fear and stress, after receiving sensory stimuli from the occipital, temporal, parietal and frontal cortex. In turn, the amygdala projects fibers to these and other structures (eg, brain stem).,

You should know:   This in turn Leads to autonomic responses, such as sweating, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, pupil dilation, etc. One of the main neurotransmitters in the tonsillar nuclei is GABA.,

What is your role there? As in the rest of the brain, it is inhibiting. When you’re afraid and still keep going no matter what, it it ‘s GABA that inhibits fear responses in the amygdala.

8. Helps control movement and vision

The basal ganglia and the cerebellum (4) are two structures of the central nervous system that regulate, with fine precision, voluntary and involuntary movements . When we take a pencil and use it to write and draw is a clear example of this.

It is there where GABA participates, the release of which prevents excessive electrical discharge from cortical neurons of the motor cortex. Thus, movement is the result of a complex balance between neuronal excitation and inhibition.

What are the characteristics of gamma aminobutyric acid?

The importance of GABA, from the physiological, pharmacological and therapeutic point of view, point of view is gigantic. This substance has been the target of many investigations and studies, which seek to make use of it for the treatment of diseases. Next, we will show you some of its relevant features.

1. It is one of the most important neurotransmitters

GABA is the target of much research, precisely because of its importance. Since itparticipates in a wide plethora of functions (as we have already mentioned above), the stimulation or inhibition of this drug is sought to treat various pathologies.

2. It is widely distributed within and outside the nervous system

GABA is the the main neurotransmitter not only in the brain, but also in the spinal cord. Pathologies associated with GABA abnormalities are characterized by movement disorders, such as Huntington’s disease.

GABA receptors have also been located in a wide variety of tissues. An example is the pancreas, where it the pancreas, where stimulates the production and action of pancreatic beta cells , which release insulin.

3. Its deficiency or dysfunction produces disorders and diseases

Numerous pathologies are associated with GABA disorders, generally due to a deficit in its pathways of action tag. For example, seizures are caused by a hyperexcitatory state of the brain, where GABA cannot do its job.

To highlight: Spasticity and muscular dystonia could be caused by GABA disorders . Other pathologies include Huntington’s disease and the clinical symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy.

4. Its levels can be increased with supplements and natural alternatives

GABA dietary supplementation is a viable alternative for certain patients avoiding the consumption of drugs such as barbiturates, gabapentin, antiepileptics such as vigabatrin and much more.

You should know: Currently, there is a controversy regarding the passage of the GABA neurotransmitter through the blood-brain barrier (6)tag. Some say yes, others say no. However, is no consensus yet .

Key Findings

  • Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is the Main neurotransmitterin the central nervous system and spinal cord.the
  • Its main function is to act as an inhibitory substance of synaptic function.
  • Gamma aminobutyric acid prevents the depolarization of neurons neurons, strictly regulating neuronal electrical discharges.
  • Gamma aminobutyric acid intervenes in behavior and participates in cognitive processes.
  • Another of its functions is to induce sleep and relaxation , as well as regulate anxiety and stress.
  • Gamma aminobutyric acid has been the target of many investigations and studies, seeking to make use of it for the treatment of diseases.

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