Advantages of bicuculline
Bicuculline is a light-sensitive competitive antagonist of GABAA receptors. It was originally identified in 1932 in plant alkaloid extracts and has been isolated from Dicentra cucullaria, Adlumia fungosa, Fumariaceae, and several Corydalis species. Since it blocks the inhibitory action of GABA receptors, the action of bicuculline mimics epilepsy. This property is utilized in laboratories across the world in the in vitro study of epilepsy, generally in hippocampal or cortical neurons in prepared brain slices from rodents.
The convulsant alkaloid bicuculline continues to be investigated more than 40 years after the first publication of its action as an antagonist of receptors for the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This historical perspective highlights key aspects of the discovery of bicuculline as a GABA antagonist and the sustained interest in this and other GABA antagonists.
The exciting advances in the molecular biology, pharmacology and physiology of GABA receptors provide a continuing stimulus for the discovery of new antagonists with increasing selectivity for the myriad of GABA receptor subclasses.