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Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Jun;145(4):527-34.

Neuroprotective activity of the mGluR5 antagonists MPEP and MTEP against acute excitotoxicity differs and does not reflect actions at mGluR5 receptors.

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Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20057-2197, USA.


1 Neuroprotection has been reported after either activation or blockade of the group I metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5). However, some recent evidence suggests that protection provided by mGluR5 antagonists may reflect their ability to inhibit N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity. 2 Here, in both rat and mouse cortical neurons, we compare the neuroprotective actions of two mGluR5 antagonists: 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine (MPEP), which has been commonly used and 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl)ethynyl]pyridine (MTEP), a more recently developed compound believed to have greater mGluR5 selectivity. We have previously shown that MPEP directly reduces single-channel NMDA receptor open time at the same concentrations (20 microM or greater) that show neuroprotection, whereas MPEP antagonizes mGluR5 agonist ((RS)-2-chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine (CHPG))-induced changes in inositol phosphates (IP) at concentrations as low as 0.2 microM. 3 In the present studies, MTEP significantly inhibited CHPG-mediated IP hydrolysis at concentrations as low as 0.02 microM. In contrast to MPEP, which significantly reduced glutamate- or NMDA-mediated cell death in primary rat neuronal cultures at a concentration of 20 microM, small neuroprotective effects were observed with MTEP only at a concentration of 200 microM. Neither MPEP- nor MTEP-mediated mGluR5 inhibition had any effect on etoposide-induced apoptotic cell death. In rat cortical neurons, the neuroprotective effects of MTEP at very high concentrations, like those of MPEP, reflect ability to directly reduce NMDA receptor peak and steady-state currents. 4 We also compared the effects of MPEP and MTEP in primary cortical neuronal cultures from parental and mGluR5 knockout mice. Both agents were neuroprotective, at high concentrations in normal as well as in the knockout cultures. In contrast to rat cortical neurons, neither MPEP nor MTEP appears to directly alter NMDA receptor activity. 5 Combined, these studies support the conclusion that MTEP has greater mGluR5 selectivity than MPEP, and that neuroprotection provided by either antagonist in neuronal cultures does not reflect inhibition of mGluR5 receptors.

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