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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 905624, 13 pages
Review Article

Maturation of the GABAergic Transmission in Normal and Pathologic Motoneurons

1Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (INCIA), Université de Bordeaux et CNRS—UMR 5287, avenue des Facultés, 4ème étage Est, 33405 Talence, France
2INSERM U 952, CNRS UMR 7224, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Bâtiment B, étage 2, boite postale 37, 7 quai Saint Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
3Institut des Maladies Neurodégénératives (IMN), Université de Bordeaux et CNRS—UMR 5293, avenue des Facultés, 4ème étage Est, 33405 Talence, France

Received 10 February 2011; Accepted 17 April 2011

Academic Editor: Evelyne Sernagor

Copyright © 2011 Anne-Emilie Allain et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) acting on Cl-permeable ionotropic type A (GABAA) receptors (GABAAR) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult central nervous system of vertebrates. In immature brain structures, GABA exerts depolarizing effects mostly contributing to the expression of spontaneous activities that are instructive for the construction of neural networks but GABA also acts as a potent trophic factor. In the present paper, we concentrate on brainstem and spinal motoneurons that are largely targeted by GABAergic interneurons, and we bring together data on the switch from excitatory to inhibitory effects of GABA, on the maturation of the GABAergic system and GABAAR subunits. We finally discuss the role of GABA and its GABAAR in immature hypoglossal motoneurons of the spastic (SPA) mouse, a model of human hyperekplexic syndrome.