Effects of anticonvulsants on cholinergic and GABAergic properties in the neuronal cell clone NG108-15

Charles D. Searles, Paul A. Slesinger, Harvey S. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effects of anticonvulsant drugs on growth, cholinergic, and GABAergic properties were examined in the neuronal cell clone NG108-15. Cells were exposed for 4 days to valproic acid, phenobarbital, phenytoin, or carbamazepine in concentrations equivalent to therapeutic free levels in human serum. Experiments were also performed with varying concentrations of a recently proposed antiepileptic, gamma-vinyl GABA. Of these five anticonvulsants, cell growth (total protein and cell counts) was decreased with valproic acid and phenytoin but only valproic acid and gamma-vinyl GABA altered neurotransmitter markers. Therapeutic concentrations of valproic acid increased choline acetyltransferase activity to 142% of control but had no effect on either the activity of glutamate decarboxylase or the level of GABA. The effects of a higher (toxic) concentration of valproic acid (200 μg/ml) were similar to those induced by the differentiating agent dibutyryl cyclic AMP: both decreased cell growth, enhanced the activity of choline acetyltransferase and reduced the activity of glutamate decarboxylase. Gamma-vinyl GABA had no effect on cholinergic markers but, at 1300 μg/ml, increased GABA levels to 135% of control despite the reduction of glutamate decarboxylase to 68% of control. In the NG108-15 cell clone, anticonvulsants have varying effects on cell growth, differentiation, and neurotransmitter systems. Our findings do not support the proposal that the mechanism of action for valproic acid, phenobarbital, phenytoin, and carbamazepine is via alteration of GABA levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1013
Number of pages7
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 1988


  • Anticonvulsants
  • GABA
  • acetylcholine
  • differentiation
  • neuronal cell clone
  • neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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