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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2001 Sep;18(3):247-58.

The neuroprotective agent memantine induces brain-derived neurotrophic factor and trkB receptor expression in rat brain.

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A. I. Virtanen Institute, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, 70211, Finland.


Memantine is a medium-affinity uncompetitive N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist and has been clinically used as a neuroprotective agent to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. We have examined the effect of memantine (ip 5-50 mg/kg; 4 h) on the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and trkB receptor mRNAs in rat brain by in situ hybridization. Memantine at a clinically relevant dose markedly increased BDNF mRNA levels in the limbic cortex, and this effect was more widespread and pronounced at higher doses. Effects of memantine on BDNF mRNA were also reflected in changes in BDNF protein levels. Moreover, memantine induced isoforms of the BDNF receptor trkB. Taken together, these data suggest that the neuroprotective properties of memantine could be mediated by the increased endogenous production of BDNF in the brain. These findings may open up new possibilities of pharmacologically regulating the expression of neurotrophic factors in the brain.

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