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Aging of whiskey increases the potentiation of GABA(A) receptor response

Koda, H., Hossain, S.J., Kiso, Y., Aoshima, H.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2003 v.51 no.18 pp. 5238-5244
whisky, storage time, volatile compounds, vapors, ethanol, electrophysiology, gamma-aminobutyric acid, receptors, cattle, gene transfer, gene expression, Xenopus laevis, oocytes, mice, sleep, pentobarbital, blood-brain barrier
It is known that the target of most mood-defining compounds such as ethanol is an ionotropic γ-aminobutyric acid receptor (GABA(A) receptor). The potentiation of the response of these inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors induces anxiolytic, sedative, and anesthetic activities in the human brain. Because both extracts of whiskey by pentane and fragrant components in whiskey potentiate the GABA(A) receptor-mediated response, GABA(A) receptors were expressed in Xenopus oocyte by injecting cRNAs prepared from the cloned cDNA for the α1 and β1 subunits of the bovine receptors in order to study the effects of whiskey itself on the GABA(A) receptor-mediated response. Whiskey itself also potentiated the electrical responses of GABA(A) receptors generally more than ethanol at the same concentration as that of the whiskey. The potentiation of the GABA(A) receptor-mediated response increased with the aging period of the whiskey. Inhalation of whiskey to mice increased the sleeping time induced by pentobarbital more than that of the same concentration of ethanol as the whiskey. These results suggest that not only ethanol but also minor components in whiskey play an important role in the potentiation of GABA(A) receptor-mediated response and possibly the sedative effect of whiskey. Although the minor components are present in extremely small quantities compared with ethanol in alcoholic beverages, they may modulate the mood or consciousness of humans through the potentiation of the GABA(A) receptor response after absorption into the brain, because these hydrophobic compounds are easily absorbed into the brain across the blood-brain barrier and are several thousands times as potent as ethanol in the potentiation of the GABA(A) receptor-mediated response.