Definition: A naturally occurring short-chain fatty acid, a metabolite of ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) found in all body tissues, with the highest concentration in the brain. It affects levels of GABA, dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and acetylcholine, and may itself be a neurotransmitter; accumulation of GHB in people with an inherited disorder in the metabolism of GABA causes ataxia and mental retardation. Synthetic GHB, formerly used in anesthesia and in the treatment of narcolepsy and alcohol withdrawal, has been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of severe neurologic, cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal side effects.
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