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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Apr;33(5):1004-18. Epub 2007 Jul 11.

D-serine augments NMDA-NR2B receptor-dependent hippocampal long-term depression and spatial reversal learning.

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  • 1Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.


The contributions of hippocampal long-term depression (LTD) to explicit learning and memory are poorly understood. Electrophysiological and behavioral studies examined the effects of modulating NMDA receptor-dependent LTD on spatial learning in the Morris water maze (MWM). The NMDA receptor co-agonist D-serine substantially enhanced NR2B-dependent LTD, but not long-term potentiation (LTP) or depotentiation, in hippocampal slices from adult wild type mice. Exogenous D-serine did not alter MWM acquisition, but substantially enhanced subsequent reversal learning of a novel target location and performance in a delayed-matching-to-place task. Conversely, an NR2B antagonist disrupted reversal learning and promoted perseveration. Endogenous synaptic D-serine likely saturates during LTP induction because exogenous D-serine rescued deficient LTP and MWM acquisition in Grin1(D481N) mutant mice having a lower D-serine affinity. Thus, D-serine may enhance a form of hippocampal NR2B-dependent LTD that contributes to spatial reversal learning. By enhancing this form of synaptic plasticity, D-serine could improve cognitive flexibility in psychiatric disorders characterized by perseveration of aberrant ideation or behaviors.

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