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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Dec 1;88(23):10936-40.

Aniracetam reduces glutamate receptor desensitization and slows the decay of fast excitatory synaptic currents in the hippocampus.

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Physiology Graduate Program, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0450.


Aniracetam is a nootropic drug that has been shown to selectively enhance quisqualate receptor-mediated responses in Xenopus oocytes injected with brain mRNA and in hippocampal pyramidal cells [Ito, I., Tanabe, S., Kohda, A. & Sugiyama, H. (1990) J. Physiol. (London) 424, 533-544]. We have used patch clamp recording techniques in hippocampal slices to elucidate the mechanism for this selective action. We find that aniracetam enhances glutamate-evoked currents in whole-cell recordings and, in outside-out patches, strongly reduces glutamate receptor desensitization. In addition, aniracetam selectively prolongs the time course and increases the peak amplitude of fast synaptic currents. These findings indicate that aniracetam slows the kinetics of fast synaptic transmission and are consistent with the proposal [Trussell, L. O. & Fischbach, G. D. (1989) Neuron 3, 209-218; Tang, C.-M., Dichter, M. & Morad, M. (1989) Science 243, 1474-1477] that receptor desensitization governs the strength of fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain.

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