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Med Res Rev. 2007 Mar;27(2):239-78.

Competitive AMPA receptor antagonists.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Polo Scientifico, Via U. Schiff, 6-50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy.


Glutamic acid (Glu) is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) where it is involved in the physiological regulation of different processes. It has been well established that excessive endogenous Glu is associated with many acute and chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as cerebral ischaemia, epilepsy, amiotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease. These data have consequently added great impetus to the research in this field. In fact, many Glu receptor antagonists acting at the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA), 2-amino-3-(3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazol-4-yl)propionic acid (AMPA), and/or kainic acid (KA) receptors have been developed as research tools and potential therapeutic agents. Ligands showing competitive antagonistic action at the AMPA type of Glu receptors were first reported in 1988, and the systemically active 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulphamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline (NBQX) was first shown to have useful therapeutic effects in animal models of neurological disease in 1990. Since then, the quinoxaline template has represented the backbone of various competitive AMPA receptor antagonists belonging to different classes which had been developed in order to increase potency, selectivity and water solubility, but also to prolong the "in vivo" action. Compounds that present better pharmacokinetic properties and less serious adverse effects with respect to the others previously developed are undergoing clinical evaluation. In the near future, the most important clinical application for the AMPA receptor antagonists will probably be as neuroprotectant in neurodegenerative diseases, such as epilepsy, for the treatment of patients not responding to current therapies. The present review reports the history of competitive AMPA receptor antagonists from 1988 up to today, providing a systematic coverage of both the open and patent literature.

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