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Arzneimittelforschung. 1990 May;40(5):511-4.

[The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex. Various sites of regulation and clinical consequences].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Abteilung für Neuropsychopharmakologie, Schering Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin.


Amino acids such as L-glutamate und L-aspartate are major excitatory neurotransmitters in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) and potential neurotoxins (excitotoxins), which can destroy central neurons by excessive activation of respective receptors. In the last three decades evidence has accumulated that excitatory amino acids (EAA) are involved in many neurological diseases and that pharmacological intervention offers prospects of novel and more effective therapies. Three different receptor types for EAA have been identified, each being named by the selective agonist to which it is preferentially sensitive, i.e. N-methyl-D-aspartate- (NMDA), kainate- and quisqualate-receptors. In this review interest is focused primarily on the NMDA-receptor, whose structure has been subject of numerous electrophysiological and biochemical studies. Today, it is well established that the NMDA-receptor-ionophore complex has an agonist binding site for glutamate, NMDA and related EAAs which is coupled with an ion channel permeable to Na+, K+, Cl- and Ca2+. Four other binding sites for glycine, phencyclidine, Mg2+ and Zn2+ have been identified which can differentially modulate the function of the NMDA receptor. An additional polyamine binding site has recently been reported. Numerous studies on experimental animals demonstrate that modulators of NMDA-mediated neurotransmission may have antiepileptic, anxiolytic, muscle-relaxant and memory-enhancing effects. Particular interest has gained the possible neuroprotective efficacy of NMDA-receptor antagonists in neurological diseases such as hypoxia/ischemia, hypoglycemia, epilepsy and chronic neurodegenerative disorders (Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and AIDS encephalopathy).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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