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J Neurol. 2000 Apr;247 Suppl 2:II36-42.

Antiparkinsonian and antidyskinetic activity of drugs targeting central glutamatergic mechanisms.

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  • 1Experimental Therapeutics Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Motor dysfunction produced by the chronic non-physiological stimulation of dopaminergic receptors on striatal medium spiny neurons is associated with alterations in the sensitivity of glutamatergic receptors, including those of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype. Functional characteristics of these ionotropic receptors are regulated by their phosphorylation state. Lesioning the nigrostriatal dopamine system of rats induces parkinsonian signs and increases the phosphorylation of striatal NMDA receptor subunits on serine and tyrosine residues. The intrastriatal administration of certain inhibitors of the kinases capable of phosphorylating NMDA receptors produces a dopaminomimetic motor response in these animals. Treating parkinsonian rats twice daily with levodopa induces many of the characteristic features of the human motor complication syndrome and further increases the serine and tyrosine phosphorylation of specific NMDA receptor subunits. Again, the intrastriatal administration of selective inhibitors of certain serine and tyrosine kinases alleviates the motor complications. NMDA receptor antagonists, including some non-competitive channel blockers, act both palliatively and prophylactically in rodent and primate models to reverse these levodopa-induced response alterations. Similarly, in clinical studies dextrorphan, dextromethorphan, and amantadine have been found to be efficacious against motor complications. Recent observations in animal models further indicate that certain amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole proprionic acid (AMPA) antagonists alleviate, while others exacerbate, these complications. Thus, it appears that the denervation or intermittent stimulation of striatal dopaminergic receptors differentially activates signal transduction pathways in medium spiny neurons. These in turn modify the phosphorylation state of ionotropic glutamate receptors and consequently their sensitivity to cortical input. These striatal changes contribute to symptom production in Parkinson's disease, and their prevention or reversal could prove useful in the treatment of this disorder.

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