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J Neurochem. 1994 Sep;63(3):879-85.

Comparison of the potency of competitive NMDA antagonists against the neurotoxicity of glutamate and NMDA.

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Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The object of this investigation was to determine whether glutamate uptake affects the apparent potency of the competitive antagonists DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate and CGS-19755 in blocking NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity. In astrocyte-rich rat cortical cultures we observed that DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate and CGS-19755 were 24 and 16 times more potent against NMDA than against glutamate-induced toxicity. In contrast, DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate was equipotent against the two agonists in astrocyte-poor cultures, in which dendrites are directly exposed to the extracellular medium. With the noncompetitive NMDA antagonist MK-801, similar potencies were observed against glutamate (212 +/- 16 nM) and against NMDA (155 +/- 9 nM) neurotoxicity. These results may be explained if we assume that the neuronal cell body is less susceptible than the dendrites to NMDA receptor-mediated toxicity, and that the action of glutamate in astrocyte-rich cultures is confined to the cell body. In this case, one would expect that higher concentrations of glutamate would be needed to produce toxicity in astrocyte-rich cultures, and that higher concentrations of competitive antagonists would be needed to overcome this toxicity. Our observations help explain the pharmacology of the competitive NMDA antagonists against NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity but also suggest the possibility that, because the cell body and dendrites may be distinct sites for neurotoxicity, they might also involve different mechanisms of toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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