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Keywords:

  • Diazepam;
  • KCC2;
  • Receptors;
  • Refractory;
  • Seizures;
  • Trafficking

Summary

Benzodiazepines have been used for decades as first-line treatment for status epilepticus (SE). For reasons that are not fully understood, the efficacy of benzodiazepines decreases with increasing duration of seizure activity. This often forces clinicians to resort to more drastic second- and third-line treatments that are not always successful. The antiseizure properties of benzodiazepines are mediated by γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. Decades of research have focused on the failure of GABAergic inhibition after seizure onset as the likely cause of the development benzodiazepine resistance during SE. However, the details of the deficits in GABAA signaling are still largely unknown. Therefore, it is necessary to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of benzodiazepine resistance so that more effective strategies can be formulated. In this review we discuss evidence supporting the role of altered GABAA receptor function as the major underlying cause of benzodiazepine-resistant SE in both humans and animal models. We specifically address the prevailing hypothesis, which is based on changes in the number and subtypes of GABAA receptors, as well as the potential influence of perturbed chloride homeostasis in the mature brain.