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Nature. 1988 Nov 3;336(6194):68-70.

NMDA receptors activate the arachidonic acid cascade system in striatal neurons.

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Centre CNRS-INSERM de Pharmacologie-Endocrinologie, Montpellier, France.


Receptors for excitatory amino-acid transmitters on nerve cells fall into two main categories associated with non-selective cationic channels, the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) and non-NMDA (kainate and quisqualate) receptors. Special properties of NMDA receptors such as their voltage-dependent blockade by Mg2+ (refs 3, 4) and their permeability to Na+, K+ as well as to Ca2+ (refs 5, 6), have led to the suggestion that these receptors are important in plasticity during development and learning. They have been implicated in long-term potentiation (LTP), a model for the study of the cellular mechanisms of learning. We report here that glutamate and NMDA, acting at typical NMDA receptors, stimulate the release of arachidonic acid (as well as 11- and 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids from striatal neurons probably by stimulation of a Ca2+-dependent phospholipase A2. Kainate and quisqualate, as well as K+-induced depolarization were ineffective. Our results provide direct evidence in favour of the hypothesis, that arachidonic acid derivatives, produced by activation of the postsynaptic cell, could be messengers that cross the synaptic cleft to modify the presynaptic functions known to be altered during LTP. In addition, we suggest that NMDA receptors are the postsynaptic receptors which trigger the synthesis of these putative transynaptic messengers.

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