Localization of GABA receptors in the basal ganglia

Justin Boyes, J. Paul Bolam*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The majority of neurons in the basal ganglia utilize GABA as their principal neurotransmitter and, as a consequence, most basal ganglia neurons receive extensive GABAergic inputs derived from multiple sources. In order to understand the diverse roles of GABA in the basal ganglia it is necessary to define the precise localization of GABA receptors in relation to known neuron subtypes and known afferents. In this chapter, we summarize data on the ultrastructural localization of ionotropic GABAA receptors and metabotropic GABAB receptors in the basal ganglia. In each of the regions of the basal ganglia that have been studied, GABAA receptor subunits are located primarily at symmetrical synapses formed by GABAergic boutons, where they display a several-hundred-fold enrichment over extrasynaptic sites. In contrast, GABAB receptors are widely distributed at synaptic and extrasynaptic sites on both presynaptic and postsynaptic membranes. Presynaptic GABAB receptors are localized on striatopallidal, striatonigral and pallidonigral afferent terminals, as well as glutamatergic terminals derived from the cortex, thalamus and subthalamic nucleus. It is concluded that fast GABA transmission mediated by GABAA receptors in the basal ganglia occurs primarily at synapses whereas GABA transmission mediated by GABAB receptors is more complex, involving receptors located at presynaptic, postsynaptic and extrasynaptic sites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-243
    Number of pages15
    JournalProgress in Brain Research
    Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2007


    • GABA receptor
    • globus pallidus
    • striatum
    • substantia nigra


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