Send to

Choose Destination
Adv Protein Chem Struct Biol. 2016;103:203-61. doi: 10.1016/bs.apcsb.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

AMPA Receptors as Therapeutic Targets for Neurological Disorders.

Author information

Department of Physiology, Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
School of Psychology, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Department of Physiology, Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. Electronic address:


Almost every neurological disease directly or indirectly affects synapse function in the brain. However, these diseases alter synapses through different mechanisms, ultimately resulting in altered synaptic transmission and/or plasticity. Glutamate is the major neurotransmitter that mediates excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain through activation of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) receptors. These receptors have therefore been identified as a target for the development of therapeutic treatments for neurological disorders including epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, autism, and drug addiction. The fact that AMPA receptors play a dominant role throughout the brain raises the significant challenge of selectively targeting only those regions affected by disease, and clinical trials have raised doubt regarding the feasibility of specifically targeting AMPA receptors for new therapeutic options. Benzamide compounds that act as positive allosteric AMPA receptor modulators, known as AMPAkines, can act on specific brain regions and were initially proposed to revolutionize the treatment of cognitive deficits associated with neurological disorders. Their therapeutic potential has since declined due to inconsistent results in clinical trials. However, recent advances in basic biomedical research are significantly increasing our knowledge of AMPA receptor structure, binding sites, and interactions with auxiliary proteins. In particular, the large complex of postsynaptic proteins that interact with AMPA receptor subunits have been shown to control AMPA receptor insertion, location, pharmacology, synaptic transmission, and plasticity. These proteins are now being considered as alternative therapeutic target sites for modulating AMPA receptors in neurological disorders.


AMPA receptor; Autism; Drug addiction; Epilepsy; Glutamate; MAGUKs; Neurodegenerative disease; Postsynaptic density; Shanks

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center