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Neurotherapeutics. 2009 Oct;6(4):693-702. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2009.07.008.

Targeting the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Centre for Study of Pain, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.


Neuropathic pain is generally defined as a chronic pain state resulting from peripheral or central nerve injury, or both. An effective treatment for neuropathic pain is still lacking. The NMDA receptor, one type of the ionotropic glutamate receptors, is known to be important for triggering long-lasting changes in synapses. NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity plays roles not only in physiological functions such as learning and memory, but also in unwanted pathological conditions such as chronic pain. This review addresses recent progress on NMDA receptors in neuropathic pain, with particular emphasis on the NR2B-subunit-containing receptors. The expression and function of NMDA receptors in synaptic plasticity in the pain transmission pathway from dorsal root ganglia to the anterior cingulate cortex is reviewed, and preclinical and clinical investigations of selective NMDA receptor in neuropathic pain are discussed. The NMDA receptors, in particular NR2B-containing NMDA receptors, serve as promising targets for treatment of neuropathic pain.

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