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J Neurochem. 1994 Apr;62(4):1635-8.

Chronic ingestion of ethanol up-regulates NMDAR1 receptor subunit immunoreactivity in rat hippocampus.

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Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06508.


We examined the effects of chronic ethanol exposure on the levels of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit 1 (NMDAR1) protein, an essential component of N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors, in rat brain. By immunoblotting procedures using a specific antibody for the NMDAR1 subunit, we found that ethanol dramatically up-regulated (by 65%) NMDAR1 immunoreactivity in the hippocampus but not in the nucleus accumbens, cerebral cortex, or striatum. In contrast, ethanol did not alter the levels of glutamate receptor subunit (GLUR) 1 or GLUR2 protein, subunits that make up the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid glutamate receptor, in the hippocampus. Because ethanol can potentially influence many different neurotransmitter systems, we examined whether chronic treatment with several psychotropic drugs with different pharmacological profiles (cocaine, haloperidol, SCH 23390, imipramine, and morphine) could mimic the effect of ethanol. None of these agents increased hippocampal NMDAR1 subunit immunoreactivity after chronic administration. Increased NMDAR1 subunit levels in the hippocampus after chronic ethanol exposure may represent an important neurochemical substrate for some of the features associated with ethanol dependence and withdrawal.

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