Zolpidem modulates the alpha-subunit, known as the benzodiazepine receptor, within the GABAA receptor chloride channel macromolecular complex. Unlike the benzodiazepines, which non-selectively interact with all three alpha-receptor subtypes, Zolpidem preferentially binds to the alpha-1 receptor.
Zolpidem is a sedative or hypnotic agent with a chemical structure unrelated to benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or other drugs with known hypnotic properties. It interacts with a GABA-BZ receptor complex and shares some of the pharmacological properties of the benzodiazepines. In contrast to the benzodiazepines, which non-selectively bind to and activate all three alpha receptor subtypes, zolpidem in vitro binds the (alpha1) receptor preferentially. The (alpha1) receptor is found primarily on the Lamina IV of the sensorimotor cortical regions, substantia nigra (pars reticulata), cerebellum molecular layer, olfactory bulb, ventral thalamic complex, pons, inferior colliculus, and globus pallidus.
Zolpidem is converted to inactive metabolites in the liver.
Oral (male rat) LD50 = 695 mg/kg. Symptoms of overdose include impairment of consciousness ranging from somnolence to light coma.