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J Cell Physiol. 2004 Aug;200(2):309-17.

Significance of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated signaling in human keratinocytes.

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University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and Veteran Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, California USA.


Increasing data suggest that glutamate might act as a cell-signaling molecule in non-neuronal tissues such as the skin. Here we demonstrate the presence of functional N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors in human keratinocytes. NMDA receptor expression strongly reflects the degree of cell-to-cell contact. Wounding polarizes the expression of NMDA receptors in keratinocytes involved in re-epithelialization, and the process of re-epithelialization is inhibited by NMDA receptor activation. We also demonstrate that squamous cell carcinomas lack NMDA receptors. Our data suggest that Ca2+ entry through NMDA receptors influences the cycle of keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation, and migration during epithelialization. Moreover, NMDA receptor activation might play a role in contact-mediated inhibition of growth, a process that is absent during neoplastic pathology. This receptor may serve as a pharmacological target for modulating keratinocyte behavior and treating cutaneous disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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