Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Neuropharmacology. 2004 Mar;46(4):490-6.

NAAG fails to antagonize synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in cerebellar granule neurons.

Author information

  • 1Department of Physiology, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057-1229 USA.


The peptide transmitter N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) selectively activates the group II metabotropic glutamate receptors. Several reports also suggest that this peptide acts as a partial agonist at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors but its putative antagonist effects have not been directly tested. To do this, we used whole cell recordings from cerebellar granule cells (CGC) in culture that allow the highest possible resolution of NMDA channel activation. When CGC were activated with equimolar concentrations of NMDA and NAAG, the peptide failed to alter the peak current elicited by NMDA. Very high concentrations of NAAG (100-200 microM) did not significantly reduce the current elicited by 10 microM NMDA or 0.1 microM glutamate, while 400 microM NAAG produced only a very small (less than 15%) reduction in these whole cell currents. Similarly, NAAG (400 microM) failed to significantly alter the average decay time constant or the peak amplitude of NMDA receptor-mediated miniature excitatory post-synaptic currents (mEPSCs). We conclude that high concentrations of the peptide do not exert physiologically relevant antagonist actions on synaptic NMDA receptor activation following vesicular release of glutamate. As an agonist, purified NAAG was found to be at least 10,000-fold less potent than glutamate in increasing "background" current via NMDA receptors on CGC. Inasmuch as it is difficult to confirm that NAAG preparations are completely free from contamination with glutamate at the 0.01% level, the peptide itself appears unlikely to have a direct agonist activity at the NMDA receptor subtypes found in CGC. Recent reports indicate that enhancing the activity of endogenous NAAG may be an important therapeutic approach to excitotoxicity and chronic pain perception. These effects are likely mediated by group II mGluRs, not NMDA receptors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk