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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2001 Aug;2(8):1112-9.

Glutamate receptor ligands as anxiolytics.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Smetna.


The glutamatergic system has received considerable attention over recent years as a potential target for anxiolytic drugs. In spite of the pronounced anxiolytic-like effects of competitive and non-competitive antagonists of NMDA receptors in animal models of anxiety, these substances can not be regarded as potential anxiolytic drugs, mainly due to their side-effect profiles (eg, ataxia, myorelaxation, impairment of learning and memory processes and psychotomimetic effects). Antagonists and partial agonists of the glycine, receptor inhibit function of the NMDA receptor complex and evoke in animals an anxiolytic-like response. Although data concerning anti-anxiety-like effects of glycine, receptor antagonists are not very promising, studies are underway to develop new, brain-penetrating agents devoid of side effects. Further developments are necessary to more fully elucidate the possible involvement of AMPA/kainate receptors in anxiety. The recent discovery of metabotropic glutamate receptors, which modulate the function of the glutamatergic system, offers new hope for discovery of a new generation of anxiolytics. MPEP, a highly selective, brain penetrable, noncompetitive mGlu5 receptor antagonist, evokes anxiolytic-like effects in several animal models of anxiety, remaining remarkably free of side effects. LY-354740, a selective brain-penetrable group II mGlu receptor agonist, evokes marked anxiolytic-like effects in animal models of anxiety. LY-354740 causes mild sedation in mice, does not disturb motor coordination and has no potential to cause dependence. Therefore mGlu receptor ligands may become the anxiolytics of the future, free from the side effects characteristic of benzodiazepines.

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