A benzodiazepine with anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, and amnesic properties and a long duration of action. Its actions are mediated by enhancement of gamma-aminobutyric acid activity. It is used in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders, as a hypnotic in the short-term management of insomnia, as a sedative and premedicant, as an anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. (From Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p589)
Used in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders, as a hypnotic in the short-term management of insomnia, as a sedative and premedicant, as an anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Diazepam, a benzodiazepine, generates the same active metabolite as chlordiazepoxide and clorazepate. In animals, diazepam appears to act on parts of the limbic system, the thalamus and hypothalamus, and induces calming effects. Diazepam, unlike chlorpromazine and reserpine, has no demonstrable peripheral autonomic blocking action, nor does it produce extrapyramidal side effects; however, animals treated with diazepam do have a transient ataxia at higher doses. Diazepam was found to have transient cardiovascular depressor effects in dogs. Long-term experiments in rats revealed no disturbances of endocrine function. Injections into animals have produced localized irritation of tissue surrounding injection sites and some thickening of veins after intravenous use.
Mechanism of action
Benzodiazepines bind nonspecifically to benzodiazepine receptors which mediate sleep, affects muscle relaxation, anticonvulsant activity, motor coordination, and memory. As benzodiazepine receptors are thought to be coupled to gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA<sub>A</sub>) receptors, this enhances the effects of GABA by increasing GABA affinity for the GABA receptor. Binding of GABA to the site opens the chloride channel, resulting in a hyperpolarized cell membrane that prevents further excitation of the cell.
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