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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Nov;78(5):2363-71.

Neurotrophin modulation of NMDA receptors in cultured murine and isolated rat neurons.

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NeuroScience Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1.


Neurotrophin modulation of NMDA receptors in cultured murine and isolated rat neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 78: 2363-2371, 1997. Patch-clamp and calcium imaging techniques were used to assess the acute effects of the neurotrophins, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and nerve growth factor (NGF), on the responses of cultured and acutely isolated hippocampal and cultured striatal neurons to the glutamate receptor agonist N-methyl--aspartic acid (NMDA). The effects of BDNF on NMDA-activated currents were examined in greater detail. Currents evoked by NMDA, and the accompanying changes in intracellular calcium, were enhanced by low concentrations of the neurotrophins (1-20 ng/ml). The potentiation by the neurotrophins was rapid in onset and offset (<1 s). The neurotrophins also reduced desensitization of these currents in most cells. The enhancement of NMDA-activated currents by BDNF was observed using both perforated and whole cell patch recording techniques and could be demonstrated in outside-out patches. Furthermore, its effects were not attenuated by pretreatment with the protein kinase inhibitors genistein or 1-(5-isoquinolynesulfony)2-methylpiperazine (H7). Therefore, the actions of BDNF do not appear to be mediated by phosphorylation. Similar enhancements were observed with NT-3 and NT-4 and with NGF despite the fact that hippocampal neurons lack TrkA receptors. All together this evidence suggests that the enhancement of NMDA-evoked currents is unlikely to be mediated through the activation of growth factor receptors. Modulation of NMDA responses by BDNF was dependent on the concentration of extracellular glycine. The most pronounced potentiation by BDNF was observed at low concentrations, whereas no potentiation was observed in saturating concentrations of glycine, suggesting that BDNF may have increased the affinity of the NMDA receptor for glycine. However, the competitive glycine-site antagonist 7-chloro-kynurenic acid blocked the enhancement by BDNF without shifting the dose-inhibition relationship for this antagonist, and Mg2+ consistently depressed the potentiation of NMDA-evoked currents by BDNF, indicating that BDNF does not alter glycine affinity. BDNF also reversibly increased the probability of opening of NMDA channels recorded from outside-out patches taken from cultured hippocampal neurons. Other unrelated peptides including dynorphin and somatostatin also caused a glycine-dependent enhancement of NMDA currents and depressed the currents in saturating concentrations of glycine. In contrast, a shortened analogue dynorphin (6-17), which lacks N-terminus glycine residues, and another peptide met-enkephalin were without effects on NMDA currents recorded in low concentrations of glycine. Our results suggest that neurotrophins and other peptides can serve as glycine-like ligands for the NMDA receptor.

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