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1.  GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors regulate depression-like behavior and are critical for the rapid antidepressant actions of ketamine 
eLife  null;3:e03581.
A single, low dose of the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine produces rapid antidepressant actions in treatment-resistant depressed patients. Understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying this will lead to new therapies for treating major depression. NMDARs are heteromultimeric complexes formed through association of two GluN1 and two GluN2 subunits. We show that in vivo deletion of GluN2B, only from principal cortical neurons, mimics and occludes ketamine's actions on depression-like behavior and excitatory synaptic transmission. Furthermore, ketamine-induced increases in mTOR activation and synaptic protein synthesis were mimicked and occluded in 2BΔCtx mice. We show here that cortical GluN2B-containing NMDARs are uniquely activated by ambient glutamate to regulate levels of excitatory synaptic transmission. Together these data predict a novel cellular mechanism that explains ketamine's rapid antidepressant actions. In this model, basal glutamatergic neurotransmission sensed by cortical GluN2B-containing NMDARs regulates excitatory synaptic strength in PFC determining basal levels of depression-like behavior.
eLife digest
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with hundreds of millions of people living with the condition. The ‘gold standard’ for depression treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Unfortunately, current antidepressant medications do not help everyone, waiting lists for psychotherapy are often long, and both normally take a number of weeks of regular treatment before they begin to have an effect. As patients are often at a high risk of suicide, it is crucial that treatments that act more quickly, and that are safe and effective, are developed.
One substance that may fulfill these requirements is a drug called ketamine. Studies have shown that depression symptoms can be reduced within hours by a single low dose of ketamine, and this effect on mood can last for more than a week. However, progress has been hindered by a lack of knowledge about what ketamine actually does inside the brain.
Neurons communicate with one another by releasing chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which transfer information by binding to receptor proteins on the surface of other neurons. Drugs such as ketamine also bind to these receptors. Ketamine works by blocking a specific receptor called the n-methyl d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, but how this produces antidepressant effects is not fully understood.
The NMDA receptor is actually formed from a combination of individual protein subunits, including one called GluN2B. Now Miller, Yang et al. have created mice that lack receptors containing these GluN2B subunits in neurons in their neocortex, including the prefrontal cortex, a brain region involved in complex mental processes such as decision-making. This allowed Miller, Yang et al. to discover that when the neurotransmitter glutamate binds to GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors, it limits the production of certain proteins that make it easier for signals to be transmitted between neurons. Suppressing the synthesis of these proteins too much may cause depressive effects by reducing communication between the neurons in the prefrontal cortex.
Both mice lacking GluN2B-containing receptors in their cortical neurons and normal mice treated with ketamine showed a reduced amount of depressive-like behavior. This evidence supports Miller, Yang et al.'s theory that by blocking these NMDA receptors, ketamine restricts their activation. This restores normal levels of protein synthesis, improves communication between neurons in the cortex, and reduces depression.
Understanding how ketamine works to alleviate depression is an important step towards developing it into a safe and effective treatment. Further research is also required to determine the conditions that cause overactivation of the GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors.
PMCID: PMC4270067  PMID: 25340958
depression; cortex; synapse; ketamine; electrophysiology; protein synthesis; mouse; rat
2.  Elevated levels of NR2A and PSD-95 in the lateral amygdala in depression 
Compelling evidence suggests that major depression is associated with dysfunction of the brain glutamatergic transmission, and that the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor plays a role in antidepressant activity. Recent postmortem studies demonstrate that depression is associated with altered concentrations of proteins associated with NMDA receptor signaling in the brain. The present study investigated glutamate signaling proteins in the amygdala from depressed subjects, given strong evidence for amygdala pathology in depression. Lateral amygdala samples were obtained from 13-14 pairs of age- sex-, and postmortem-interval matched depressed and psychiatrically healthy control subjects. Concentrations of NR1 and NR2A subunits of the NMDA receptor, as well as NMDA receptor-associated proteins such as postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) were measured by Western immunoblotting. Additionally, levels of enzymes involved in glutamate metabolism, including glutamine synthetase and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD-67), were measured in the same amygdala samples. NR2A protein levels were markedly and significantly elevated (+115%, p=0.03) in depressed subjects as compared to controls. Interestingly, PSD-95 levels were also highly elevated (+128%, p=0.01) in the same depressed subjects relative to controls. Amounts of NR1, nNOS, glutamine synthetase, and GAD-67 were unchanged. Increased levels of NR2A and PSD-95 suggest that glutamate signaling at the NMDA receptor in the amygdala is disrupted in depression.
PMCID: PMC2645479  PMID: 18570704
NMDA receptor; postsynaptic density protein-95; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; glutamate metabolizing enzymes, amygdala
3.  The mTOR signaling pathway in the prefrontal cortex is compromised in major depressive disorder 
Recent studies demonstrate that rapid antidepressant response to ketamine is mediated by activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, leading to increased synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of rats. Our postmortem studies indicate robust deficits in prominent postsynaptic proteins including N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits (NR2A, NR2B), metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) and postsynaptic density protein 95 kDa (PSD-95) in the PFC in major depressive disorder (MDD). We hypothesize that deficits in the mTOR-dependent translation initiation pathway contribute to the molecular pathology seen in the PFC of MDD subjects, and that a rapid reversal of these abnormalities may underlie antidepressant activity. The majority of known translational regulation occurs at the level of initiation. mTOR regulates translation initiation via its downstream components: p70-kDa ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K), and eukaryotic initiation factors 4E and 4B (eIF4E, eIF4B). In this study, we examined the expression of mTOR and its core downstream signaling targets: p70S6K, eIF4E, eIF4B in the PFC of 12 depressed subjects and 12 psychiatrically healthy controls using Western blot. Levels of eIF4E phosphorylated at serine 209 (p-eIF4E-Ser209) and eIF4B phosphorylated at serine 504 (p-eIF4B-Ser504) were also examined. Adjacent cortical tissue samples from both cohorts of subjects were used in our previous postmortem analyses. There was a significant reduction in mTOR, p70S6K, eIF4B and p-eIF4B protein expression in MDD subjects relative to controls. No group differences were observed in eIF4E, p-eIF4E or actin levels. Our findings show deficits in mTOR-dependent translation initiation in MDD particularly via the p70S6K/eIF4B pathway, and indicate a potential association between marked deficits in synaptic proteins and dysregulation of mTOR signaling in MDD.
PMCID: PMC3154612  PMID: 21635931
prefrontal cortex; translation initiation pathway; major depressive disorder; postmortem
4.  Decreased NR1, NR2A, and SAP102 transcript expression in the hippocampus in bipolar disorder 
Brain research  2006;1127(1):108-118.
Schizophrenia is associated with dysfunction of glutamatergic neurotransmission, and several studies have suggested glutamatergic abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Recent data suggest involvement of the NMDA receptor-signaling complex, which includes NMDA receptor subunits as well as associated intracellular interacting proteins critical for NMDA receptor assembly, trafficking, and activation; the most well characterized being PSD-93, PDS-95, SAP102, and NF-L. Previously, studies from our laboratories have described changes in glutamate receptor subunit transcript and binding site expression in schizophrenia, and changes in NMDA receptor binding site expression in bipolar disorder in postmortem brain tissue. In the present work, we focus on the expression of these molecules in hippocampus in schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder I.
We performed in situ hybridization to assess hippocampal expression of the transcripts encoding NMDA receptor subunits NR1, 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D, and the transcripts for the NMDA receptor associated PSD proteins PSD-95, PSD-93, NF-L and SAP102 in subjects with schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder I, and a comparison group. We also measured [3H]CGP39653 and [3H]MK-801 binding site expression in the hippocampus in schizophrenia.
There was a significant decrease in the expression of transcripts for NR1 and NR2A subunits and SAP102 in bipolar disorder. We did not detect any changes in these transcripts or in binding site expression in the hippocampus in schizophrenia.
We propose that the NMDA receptor-signaling complex, including the intracellular machinery that is coupled to the NMDA receptor subunits, is abnormal in the hippocampus in bipolar disorder. These data suggest bipolar disorder might be associated with abnormalities of glutamate-linked intracellular signaling and trafficking processes.
PMCID: PMC2900828  PMID: 17113057
[3H]CGP39653; [3H]MK-801; binding; in situ hybridization; postmortem; human; glutamate; psychosis; NMDA; PSD; post synaptic density; PDZ domain
5.  Motor Impairments, Striatal Degeneration, and Altered Dopamine-Glutamate Interplay in Mice Lacking PSD-95 
Journal of neurogenetics  2014;28(0):98-111.
Excessive activation of the N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor and the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) mediate neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration under many neurological conditions, including Huntington's disease (HD), an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease characterized by the preferential loss of medium spiny projection neurons (MSNs) in the striatum. PSD-95 is a major scaffolding protein in the postsynaptic density (PSD) of dendritic spines, where a classical role for PSD-95 is to stabilize glutamate receptors at sites of synaptic transmission. Our recent studies indicate that PSD-95 also interacts with the D1 DA receptor localized in spines and negatively regulates spine D1 signaling. Moreover, PSD-95 forms ternary protein complexes with D1 and NMDA receptors, and plays a role in limiting the reciprocal potentiation between both receptors from being escalated. These studies suggest a neuroprotective role for PSD-95. Here we show that mice lacking PSD-95, resulting from genetic deletion of the GK domain of PSD-95 (PSD-95-ΔGK mice), sporadically develop progressive neurological impairments characterized by hypolocomotion, limb clasping, and loss of DARPP-32-positive MSNs. Electrophysiological experiments indicated that NMDA receptors in mutant MSNs were overactive, suggested by larger, NMDA receptor-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) and higher ratios of NMDA- to AMPA-mediated corticostriatal synaptic transmission. In addition, NMDA receptor currents in mutant cortical neurons were more sensitive to potentiation by the D1 receptor agonist SKF81297. Finally, repeated administration of the psychostimulant cocaine at a dose regimen not producing overt toxicity-related phenotypes in normal mice reliably converted asymptomatic mutant mice to clasping symptomatic mice. These results support the hypothesis that deletion of PSD-95 in mutant mice produces concomitant overactivation of both D1 and NMDA receptors that makes neurons more susceptible to NMDA excitotoxicity, causing neuronal damage and neurological impairments. Understanding PSD-95-dependent neuroprotective mechanisms may help elucidate processes underlying neurodegeneration in HD and other neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC4406490  PMID: 24702501
6.  Postsynaptic density levels of the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit and PSD-95 protein in prefrontal cortex from people with schizophrenia 
NPJ Schizophrenia  2015;1:15037-.
There is converging evidence of involvement of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Our group recently identified a decrease in total NR1 mRNA and protein expression in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in a case-control study of individuals with schizophrenia (n=37/group). The NR1 subunit is critical to NMDA receptor function at the postsynaptic density, a cellular structure rich in the scaffolding protein, PSD-95. The extent to which the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit is altered at the site of action, in the postsynaptic density, is not clear.
To extend our previous results by measuring levels of NR1 and PSD-95 protein in postsynaptic density-enriched fractions of prefrontal cortex from the same individuals in the case-control study noted above.
Postsynaptic density-enriched fractions were isolated from fresh-frozen prefrontal cortex (BA10) and subjected to western blot analysis for NR1 and PSD-95.
We found a 20% decrease in NR1 protein (t(66)=−2.874, P=0.006) and a 30% decrease in PSD-95 protein (t(63)=−2.668, P=0.010) in postsynaptic density-enriched fractions from individuals with schizophrenia relative to unaffected controls.
Individuals with schizophrenia have less NR1 protein, and therefore potentially fewer functional NMDA receptors, at the postsynaptic density. The associated decrease in PSD-95 protein at the postsynaptic density suggests that not only are glutamate receptors compromised in individuals with schizophrenia, but the overall spine architecture and downstream signaling supported by PSD-95 may also be deficient.
PMCID: PMC4849460  PMID: 27336043
7.  Functional Uncoupling NMDAR NR2A Subunit from PSD-95 in the Prefrontal Cortex: Effects on Behavioral Dysfunction and Parvalbumin Loss after Early-Life Stress 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2015;40(12):2666-2675.
Exposure to early-life stress increases vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety. Growing evidence implicates aberrant development of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the effects of early-life stress, which often emerge in adolescence or young adulthood. Specifically, early-life stress in the form of maternal separation (MS) in rodents has been shown to decrease parvalbumin (PVB)-positive interneurons in the adolescent PFC; however, the mechanism underpinning behavioral dysfunction and PVB loss is not yet known. We recently reported that MS causes overexpression of the NMDA subunit NR2A in the PFC of adolescent rats. Elevated PFC NR2A is also found in developmental models of schizophrenia and is correlated with behavioral deficits, acting largely through its association with the postsynaptic protein PSD-95. In addition, adolescent maturation of PVB-positive interneurons relies on NR2A-driven NMDA activity. Therefore, it is possible that the NR2A/PSD-95 signaling complex has a role in adolescent MS effects. Here, we aimed to determine whether a discrete manipulation of PFC NR2A could prevent MS effects on PFC-controlled behaviors, including cognition, anxiety, and novelty-induced hyperlocomotion, as well as PVB loss in adolescence. We intracranially infused the NR2A-specific blocking peptide TAT2A in order to uncouple NR2A from PSD-95 in the early-adolescent PFC, without antagonizing the NMDA receptor. We demonstrated that MS rats treated with TAT2A during early adolescence were protected from MS-induced PVB loss and exhibited less anxious behavior than those infused with control peptide. These data implicate NR2A-related N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor development in adolescent behavioral and neural consequences of early-life stress.
PMCID: PMC4864660  PMID: 25953359
8.  Glutamate signaling proteins and tyrosine hydroxylase in the locus coeruleus of alcoholics 
Journal of psychiatric research  2007;42(5):348-355.
It has been postulated that alcoholism is associated with abnormalities in glutamatergic neurotransmission. This study examined the density of glutamate NMDA receptor subunits and its associated proteins in the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) in deceased alcoholic subjects. Our previous research indicated that the NMDA receptor in the human LC is composed of obligatory NR1 and regulatory NR2C subunits. At synapses, NMDA receptors are stabilized through interactions with postsynaptic density protein (PSD-95). PSD-95 provides structural and functional coupling of the NMDA receptor with neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), an intracellular mediator of NMDA receptor activation. LC tissue was obtained from 10 alcohol-dependent subjects and 8 psychiatrically healthy controls. Concentrations of NR1 and NR2C subunits, as well as PSD-95 and nNOS, were measured using Western blotting. In addition we have examined tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of norepinephrine. The amount of NR1 was lower in the rostral (−30%) and middle (−41%)portions of the LC of alcoholics as compared to control subjects. No differences in the amounts of NR2C, PSD-95, nNOS and TH were detected comparing alcoholic to control subjects. Lower levels of NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor in the LC implicates altered glutamate-norepinephrine interactions in alcoholism.
PMCID: PMC2292639  PMID: 17481661
glutamate; NMDA receptor; postsynaptic density protein 95; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; tyrosine hydroxylase; locus coeruleus
9.  Src kinase as a mediator of convergent molecular abnormalities leading to NMDAR hypoactivity in schizophrenia 
Molecular psychiatry  2014;20(9):1091-1100.
Numerous investigations support decreased glutamatergic signaling as a pathogenic mechanism of schizophrenia: yet molecular underpinnings for such dysregulation are largely unknown. In the postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we found striking decreases in tyrosine phosphorylation of N-methyl-D aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit 2 (GluN2), which is critical for neuroplasticity. The decreased GluN2 activity in schizophrenia may not be due to downregulation of NMDA receptors since MK-801 binding and NMDA receptor complexes in the PSD were in fact increased in schizophrenia cases. At the post-receptor level, however, we found striking reductions in the protein kinase C, Pyk 2 and Src kinase activity, which in tandem can decrease GluN2 activation. Given that Src serves as a hub of various signaling mechanisms impacting GluN2 phosphorylation, we postulated that Src hypoactivity may result from convergent alterations of various schizophrenia susceptibility pathways and thus mediate their impacts on NMDA receptor signaling. Indeed, the DLPFC of schizophrenia cases exhibit increased PSD-95 and erbB4 and decreased RPTPa and dysbindin-1, each of which reduces Src activity via protein interaction with Src. To test genomic underpinnings for Src hypoactivity, we examined genome wide association study results, incorporating 13,394 cases and 34,676 controls, which yielded no significant association of individual variants of Src and its direct regulators with schizophrenia. However, a wider protein-protein interaction based network centered on Src, showed significant enrichment of gene-level associations with schizophrenia compared to other psychiatric illnesses. Our results together demonstrate striking decreases in NMDA receptor signaling at the post-receptor level and propose Src as a nodal point of convergent dysregulations impacting NMDA receptor pathway via protein-protein associations.
PMCID: PMC5156326  PMID: 25330739
NMDA receptor; postsynaptic density; postmortem brain; NMDAR hypofunction; Src kinase
10.  Soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor enhances synaptic neurotransmission and plasticity in mouse prefrontal cortex 
The soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) is an important enzyme chiefly involved in the metabolism of fatty acid signaling molecules termed epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs). sEH inhibition (sEHI) has proven to be protective against experimental cerebral ischemia, and it is emerging as a therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of ischemic stroke. However, the role of sEH on synaptic function in the central nervous system is still largely unknown. This study aimed to test whether sEH C-terminal epoxide hydrolase inhibitor, 12-(3-adamantan-1-yl-ureido) dodecanoic acid (AUDA) affects basal synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex area (PFC). Whole cell and extracellular recording examined the miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) and field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs); Western Blotting determined the protein levels of glutamate receptors and ERK phosphorylation in acute medial PFC slices.
Application of the sEH C-terminal epoxide hydrolase inhibitor, AUDA significantly increased the amplitude of mEPSCs and fEPSPs in prefrontal cortex neurons, while additionally enhancing long term potentiation (LTP). Western Blotting demonstrated that AUDA treatment increased the expression of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) subunits NR1, NR2A, NR2B; the α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor subunits GluR1, GluR2, and ERK phosphorylation.
Inhibition of sEH induced an enhancement of PFC neuronal synaptic neurotransmission. This enhancement of synaptic neurotransmission is associated with an enhanced postsynaptic glutamatergic receptor and postsynaptic glutamatergic receptor mediated synaptic LTP. LTP is enhanced via ERK phosphorylation resulting from the delivery of glutamate receptors into the PFC by post-synapse by treatment with AUDA. These findings provide a possible link between synaptic function and memory processes.
PMCID: PMC4618874  PMID: 26494028
Soluble epoxide hydrolase; Prefrontal cortex; Excitatory synaptic neurotransmission
11.  Positive Allosteric Modulation of Metabotropic Glutamate 5 (mGlu5) Receptors Reverses N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Antagonist-Induced Alteration of Neuronal Firing in Prefrontal Cortex 
Biological psychiatry  2007;62(7):739-746.
Several lines of evidence suggest that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction may be associated with schizophrenia. Activation of metabotropic glutamate 5 (mGlu5) receptors enhances NMDA receptor mediated currents in vitro, implying that allosteric modulation of mGlu5 receptors may have therapeutic efficacy for schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to determine if positive allosteric modulators of mGlu5 receptors are effective in reversing two cellular effects of NMDA receptor antagonists that are relevant to schizophrenia: increases in corticolimbic dopamine neurotransmission and disruption of neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
In freely moving rats, we measured the effects of the positive modulator of mGlu5 receptor 3-cyano-N-(1,3-diphenyl-1H-pyrazol-5-yl)benzamide (CDPPB) alone or in combination with the NMDA antagonist MK801 on 1) spontaneous firing and bursting of medial PFC (mPFC) neurons, and 2) dopamine release as measured by microdialysis in the mPFC and nucleus accumbens (NAc).
The predominant effect of CDPPB on mPFC neurons was excitatory, leading to an overall excitatory population response. Pretreatment with CDPPB prevented MK801-induced excessive firing and reduced spontaneous bursting. In contrast, CDPPB had no significant effect on basal dopamine release as compared with control rats and did not alter MK801-induced activation of dopamine release in the mPFC and NAc.
These results show that positive modulation of mGlu5 receptors reverses the effects of noncompetitive NMDA antagonists on cortical neuronal firing without affecting dopamine neurotransmission. Thus, these compounds may be effective in ameliorating PFC mediated behavioral abnormalities that results from NMDA receptor hypofunction.
PMCID: PMC2910402  PMID: 17511968
Antipsychotic drugs; cognition; dopamine; ensemble recording; schizophrenia
12.  Postsynaptic density protein 95-regulated NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation and interactions of Fyn with NR2B in levodopa-induced dyskinesia rat models 
Abnormality in interactions between N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and its signaling molecules occurs in the lesioned striatum in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID). It was reported that Fyn-mediated NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation, can enhance NMDA receptor function. Postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95), one of the synapse-associated proteins, regulates interactions between receptor and downstream-signaling molecules. In light of the relationship between PSD-95, NR2B, and Fyn kinases, does PSD-95 contribute to the overactivity of NMDA receptor function induced by dopaminergic treatment? To further prove the possibility, the effects of regulating the PSD-95 expression on the augmented NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation and on the interactions of Fyn and NR2B in LID rat models were evaluated.
In the present study, parkinsonian rat models were established by injecting 6-hydroxydopamine. Subsequently, valid PD rats were treated with levodopa (50 mg/kg/day with benserazide 12.5 mg/kg/day, twice daily) intraperitoneally for 22 days to create LID rat models. Then, the effect of pretreatment with an intrastriatal injection of the PSD-95mRNA antisense oligonucleotides (PSD-95 ASO) on the rotational response to levodopa challenge was assessed. The effects of pretreatment with an intrastriatal injection of PSD-95 ASO on the augmented NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation and interactions of Fyn with NR2B in the LID rat models were detected by immunoblotting and immunoprecipitation.
Levodopa administration twice daily for 22 days to parkinsonian rats shortened the rotational duration and increased the peak turning responses. The altered rotational responses were attenuated by PSD-95 ASO pretreatment. Meanwhile, PSD-95 ASO pretreatment decreased the level of PSD-95 protein expression and reduced both the augmented NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation and interactions of Fyn with NR2B triggered during the levodopa administration in the lesioned striatum of PD rats. However, the protein levels of Fyn and NR2B showed no difference under the above conditions.
The data demonstrate that the inhibition of PSD-95 protein expression suppressed the interactions of Fyn with NR2B and NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation and subsequently downregulated NMDA receptor overactivation, thus providing benefit for the therapy of LID. Therefore, PSD-95 is important for overactivity of NMDA receptor function due to facilitating NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation dependent on Fyn kinase by regulating interactions of Fyn with NR2B under the pathological conditions of LID.
PMCID: PMC4278739  PMID: 25565773
PSD-95 ASO; NMDA; rotational response
13.  Glutamate receptor composition of the post-synaptic density is altered in genetic mouse models of NMDA receptor hypo- and hyperfunction 
Brain research  2011;1392:1-7.
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate receptor (AMPAR) are ionotropic glutamate receptors responsible for excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. These excitatory synapses are found on dendritic spines, with the abundance of receptors concentrated at the postsynaptic density (PSD). We utilized two genetic mouse models, the serine racemase knockout (SR−/−) and the glycine transporter subtype 1 heterozygote mutant (GlyT1+/−), to determine how constitutive NMDAR hypo- and hyperfunction, respectively, affect the glutamate receptor composition of the PSD in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Using cellular fractionation, we found that SR−/− mice had elevated protein levels of NR1 and NR2A NMDAR subunits specifically in the PSD-enriched fraction from the hippocampus, but not from the PFC. There were no changes in the amounts of AMPAR subunits (GluR1, GluR2), or PSD protein of 95kDa (PSD95) in either brain region. GlyT1+/− mice also had elevated protein expression of NR1 and NR2A subunits in the PSD, as well as an increase in total protein. Moreover, GlyT1+/− mice had elevated amounts of GluR1 and GluR2 in the PSD, and higher total amounts of GluR1. Similar to SR−/− mice, there was no protein changes observed in the PFC. These findings illustrate the complexity of synaptic adaptation to altered NMDAR function.
PMCID: PMC3225000  PMID: 21443867
serine racemase; glycine transporter; postsynaptic density; NMDA receptor; AMPA receptor; schizophrenia
14.  Adjunctive Treatment with Asenapine Augments the Escitalopram-Induced Effects on Monoaminergic Outflow and Glutamatergic Neurotransmission in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex of the Rat 
Substantial clinical data support the addition of low doses of atypical antipsychotic drugs to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to rapidly enhance the antidepressant effect in treatment-resistant depression. Preclinical studies suggest that this effect is at least partly explained by an increased catecholamine outflow in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).
In the present study we used in vivo microdialysis in freely moving rats and in vitro intracellular recordings of pyramidal cells of the rat mPFC to investigate the effects of adding the novel atypical antipsychotic drug asenapine to the SSRI escitalopram with regards to monoamine outflow in the mPFC and dopamine outflow in nucleus accumbens as well as glutamatergic transmission in the mPFC.
The present study shows that addition of low doses (0.05 and 0.1 mg/kg) of asenapine to escitalopram (5 mg/kg) markedly enhances dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin release in the rat mPFC as well as dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Moreover, this drug combination facilitated both N-methyl-d-Aspartate (NMDA)– and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)–induced currents as well as electrically evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials in pyramidal cells of the rat mPFC.
Our results support the notion that the augmentation of SSRIs by atypical antipsychotic drugs in treatment-resistant depression may, at least in part, be related to enhanced catecholamine output in the prefrontal cortex and that asenapine may be clinically used to achieve this end. In particular, the subsequent activation of the D1 receptor may be of importance for the augmented antidepressant effect, as this mechanism facilitated both NMDA and AMPA receptor-mediated transmission in the mPFC. Our novel observation that the drug combination, like ketamine, facilitates glutamatergic transmission in the mPFC may contribute to explain the rapid and potent antidepressant effect obtained when atypical antipsychotic drugs are added to SSRIs.
PMCID: PMC4360248  PMID: 25522408
depression; atypical antipsychotics; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; dopamine-glutamate interactions; prefrontal cortex
Brain research  2008;1214:23-34.
Abnormalities in glutamate neurotransmission are thought to be among the major contributing factors to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia has been regarded mostly as a disorder of higher cortical function, the cortex and thalamus work as a functional unit. Existing data regarding alterations of glutamate receptor subunit expression in the thalamus in schizophrenia remain equivocal. This postmortem study examined mRNA expression of ionotropic glutamate receptor (iGluR) subunits and PSD95 in 5 precisely defined and dissected thalamic subdivisions (medial and lateral sectors of the mediodorsal nucleus; and the ventrolateral posterior, ventral posterior, and centromedian nuclei) of persons with schizophrenia and matched controls using quantitative PCR with normalization to multiple endogenous controls. Among 15 genes examined (NR1 and NR2A-D subunits of NMDA receptor; GluR1-4 subunits of AMPA receptor; GluR5-7 and KA1-2 subunits of kainate receptor; PSD95), all but two (GluR4 and KA1) were expressed at quantifiable levels. Differences in iGluR gene expression were seen between different nuclei but not between diagnostic groups. The relative abundance of transcripts was: NR1≫NR2A>NR2B>NR2D>NR2C for NMDA, GluR2>GluR1>GluR3 for AMPA, and KA2>GluR5>GluR7>GluR6 for kainate receptors. The expression of PSD95 correlated with the expression of NR1, NR2A, NR2B, NR2D and GluR6 in all nuclei. These results provide detailed and quantitative information on iGluR subunit expression in multiple nuclei of the human thalamus but suggest that alterations in their expression are not a prominent feature of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2678296  PMID: 18462708
Quantitative real-time PCR; Gene Expression; Laser Capture Microdissection; Thalamus; Schizophrenia; Glutamate Receptors
16.  Neuroplasticity in mood disorders 
Neuroimaging and neuropathological studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) have identified abnormalities of brain structure in areas of the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, striatum, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, and raphe nucleus. These structural imaging abnormalities persist across illness episodes, and preliminary evidence suggests they may in some cases arise prior to the onset of depressive episodes in subjects at high familial risk for MDD. In other cases, the magnitude of abnormality is reportedly correlated with time spent depressed. Postmortem histopathological studies of these regions have shown abnormal reductions of synaptic markers and glial cells, and, in rare cases, reductions in neurons in MDD and BD. Many of the regions affected by these structural abnormalities show increased glucose metabolism during depressive episodes. Because the glucose metabolic signal is dominated by glutamatergic transmission, these data support other evidence that excitatory amino acid transmission is elevated in limbic-cortical-striatal-pallidal-thalamic circuits during depression. Some of the subject samples in which these metabolic abnormalities have been demonstrated were also shown to manifest abnormally elevated stressed plasma cortisol levels. The co-occurrence of increased glutamatergic transmission and Cortisol hypersecretion raises the possibility that the gray matter volumetric reductions in these depressed subjects are partly accounted for by processes homologous to the dendritic atrophy induced by chronic stress in adult rodents, which depends upon interactions between elevated glucocorticoid secretion and N-meihyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-glutamate receptor stimulation. Some mood-stabilizing and antidepressant drugs that exert neurotrophic effects in rodents appear to reverse or attenuate the gray matter volume abnormalities in humans with mood disorders. These neurotrophic effects may be integrally related to the therapeutic effects of such agents, because the regions affected by structural abnormalities in mood disorders are known to play major roles in modulating the endocrine, autonomic, behavioral, and emotional experiential responses to stressors.
PMCID: PMC3181795  PMID: 22033747
major depressive disorder; bipolar disorder; neuroplasticity; neuro-imaging abnormalities; postmortem studies
17.  Gene expression analysis of novel genes in the prefrontal cortex of major depressive disorder subjects 
Dysregulation of the glutamatergic system has been implicated not only in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), but also in the excitotoxic effects of stress and anxiety on the prefrontal cortex, which may precede the onset of a depressive episode. Our previous studies demonstrate marked deficits in prominent postsynaptic proteins involved in glutamate neurotransmission in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), Brodmann’s area 10 (BA 10) from subjects diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). In the same group of subjects we have identified deficits in expression and phosphorylation level of key components of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling pathway, known to regulate translation initiation. Based on our previous findings, we have postulated that glutamate-dependent dysregulation of mTOR- initiated protein synthesis in the PFC may underlie the pathology of MDD. The aim of this study was to use the NanoString nCounter System to perform analysis of genes coding for glutamate transporters, glutamate metabolizing enzymes, neurotrophic factors and other intracellular signaling markers involved in glutamate signaling that were not previously investigated by our group in the PFC BA10 from subjects with MDD. We have analyzed a total of 200 genes from 16 subjects with MDD and 16 healthy controls. These are part of the same cohort used in our previous studies. Setting our cutoff p-value ≤ 0.01, marked upregulation of genes coding for mitochondrial glutamate carrier (GC1; p=0.0015), neuropilin 1 (NRP-1; p=0.0019), glutamate receptor ionotropic N-methyl-D-aspartate-associated protein 1 (GRINA; p=0.0060), and fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR-1; p=0.010) was identified. No significant differences in expression of the remaining 196 genes were observed between MDD subjects and controls. While upregulation of FGFR-1 has been previously shown in MDD; abnormalities in GC-1, GRINA, and NRP-1 have not been reported. Therefore, this postmortem study identifies GC1, GRINA, and NRP-1 as novel factors associated with MDD; however, future studies will be needed to address the significance of these genes in the pathophysiology of depression and antidepressant activity.
PMCID: PMC4089971  PMID: 23261523
prefrontal cortex; major depressive disorder; postmortem; gene expression; digital PCR
18.  Expression Pattern of Membrane-Associated Guanylate Kinases in Interneurons of the Visual Cortex 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2010;518(24):4842-4854.
GABAergic interneurons are key elements regulating the activity of local circuits, and abnormal inhibitory circuits are implicated in certain psychiatric and neurodevelopmental diseases. The glutamatergic input that interneurons receive is a key determinant of their activity, yet its molecular structure and development, which are often distinct from those of glutamatergic input to pyramidal cells, are poorly defined. The membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) homologs PSD-95/SAP90, PSD-93/chapsyn110, SAP97, and SAP102 are central organizers of the postsynaptic density at excitatory synapses on pyramidal neurons. We therefore studied the cell-type-specific and developmental expression of MAGUKs in the nonoverlapping parvalbumin (PV)- and somatostatin (SOM)-positive interneurons in the visual cortex. These interneuron subtypes account for the vast majority of interneurons in the cortex and have different functional properties and postsynaptic structures, being either axodendritic (PV+) or axospinous (SOM+). To study cell-type-specific MAGUK expression, we used DIG-labeled riboprobes against each MAGUK along with antibodies against either PV or SOM and examined tissue from juvenile (P15) and adult mice. Both PV+ and SOM+ interneurons express mRNA for PSD-95, PSD-93, and SAP102 in P15 and adult tissue. In contrast, these interneuron subtypes express SAP97 at P15, but for adult visual cortex we found that most PV+ and SOM+ interneurons show low or no expression of SAP97. Given the importance of SAP97 in regulating AMPA receptor GluA1 subunit and NMDA receptor subunits at glutamatergic synapses, these results suggest a developmental shift in glutamate receptor subunit composition and regulation of glutamatergic synapses on PV+ and SOM+ interneurons.
PMCID: PMC3235800  PMID: 21031555
parvalbumin-positive; somatostatin-positive; in situ hybridization; PSD-95; PSD-93; SAP97; SAP102
19.  Impaired synaptic clustering of postsynaptic density proteins and altered signal transmission in hippocampal neurons, and disrupted learning behavior in PDZ1 and PDZ2 ligand binding-deficient PSD-95 knockin mice 
Molecular Brain  2012;5:43.
Postsynaptic density (PSD)-95-like membrane-associated guanylate kinases (PSD-MAGUKs) are scaffold proteins in PSDs that cluster signaling molecules near NMDA receptors. PSD-MAGUKs share a common domain structure, including three PDZ (PDZ1/2/3) domains in their N-terminus. While multiple domains enable the PSD-MAGUKs to bind various ligands, the contribution of each PDZ domain to synaptic organization and function is not fully understood. Here, we focused on the PDZ1/2 domains of PSD-95 that bind NMDA-type receptors, and studied the specific roles of the ligand binding of these domains in the assembly of PSD proteins, synaptic properties of hippocampal neurons, and behavior, using ligand binding-deficient PSD-95 cDNA knockin (KI) mice.
The KI mice showed decreased accumulation of mutant PSD-95, PSD-93 and AMPA receptor subunits in the PSD fraction of the hippocampus. In the hippocampal CA1 region of young KI mice, basal synaptic efficacy was reduced and long-term potentiation (LTP) was enhanced with intact long-term depression. In adult KI mice, there was no significant change in the magnitude of LTP in CA1, but robustly enhanced LTP was induced at the medial perforant path-dentate gyrus synapses, suggesting that PSD-95 has an age- and subregion-dependent role. In a battery of behavioral tests, KI mice showed markedly abnormal anxiety-like behavior, impaired spatial reference and working memory, and impaired remote memory and pattern separation in fear conditioning test.
These findings reveal that PSD-95 including its ligand binding of the PDZ1/2 domains controls the synaptic clustering of PSD-MAGUKs and AMPA receptors, which may have an essential role in regulating hippocampal synaptic transmission, plasticity, and hippocampus-dependent behavior.
PMCID: PMC3575367  PMID: 23268962
PSD-MAGUK; Synaptic clustering; PDZ domain; PSD-95; Synaptic transmission; Dentate gyrus; Behavioral test battery
20.  Electrophysiological Characterization of AMPA and NMDA Receptors in Rat Dorsal Striatum 
The striatum receives glutamatergic afferents from the cortex and thalamus, and these synaptic transmissions are mediated by α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. The purpose of this study was to characterize glutamate receptors by analyzing NMDA/AMPA ratio and rectification of AMPA and NMDA excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) using a whole-cell voltage-clamp method in the dorsal striatum. Receptor antagonists were used to isolate receptor or subunit specific EPSC, such as (DL)-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), an NMDA receptor antagonist, ifenprodil, an NR2B antagonist, CNQX, an AMPA receptor antagonist and IEM-1460, a GluR2-lacking AMPA receptor blocker. AMPA and NMDA EPSCs were recorded at -70 and +40 mV, respectively. Rectification index was calculated by current ratio of EPSCs between +50 and -50 mV. NMDA/AMPA ratio was 0.20±0.05, AMPA receptor ratio of GluR2-lacking/GluR2-containing subunit was 0.26±0.05 and NMDA receptor ratio of NR2B/NR2A subunit was 0.32±0.03. The rectification index (control 2.39±0.27) was decreased in the presence of both APV and combination of APV and IEM-1460 (1.02±0.11 and 0.93±0.09, respectively). These results suggest that the major components of the striatal glutamate receptors are GluR2-containing AMPA receptors and NR2A-containing NMDA receptors. Our results may provide useful information for corticostriatal synaptic transmission and plasticity studies.
PMCID: PMC2766737  PMID: 19885039
Striatum; AMPA; Glutamate receptor; NMDA; Patch clamp
21.  Estradiol induces physical association of neuronal nitric oxide synthase with NMDA receptor and promotes nitric oxide formation via estrogen receptor activation in primary neuronal cultures 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2009;109(1):214-224.
Estrogens and nitric oxide (NO) exert wide-ranging effects on brain function. Recent evidence suggested that one important mechanism for the regulation of NO production may reside in the differential coupling of the calcium-activated neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) to glutamate N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor channels harboring NR2B subunits by the scaffolding protein postsynaptic density-95 (PSD95), and that estrogens promote the formation of this ternary complex. Here, we demonstrate that 30-min estradiol-treatment triggers the production of NO by physically and functionally coupling NMDA receptors to nNOS in primary neurons of the rat preoptic region in vitro. The ability of estradiol to activate neuronal NO signaling in preoptic neurons and to promote changes in protein-protein interactions is blocked by ICI 182,780, an estrogen receptor antagonist. In addition, blockade of NMDA receptor NR2B subunit activity with ifenprodil or disruption of PSD95 synthesis in preoptic neurons by treatment with an antisense oligodeoxynucleotide inhibited the estradiol-promoted stimulation of NO release in cultured preoptic neurons. Thus, estrogen receptor-mediated stimulation of the nNOS/PSD95/NMDA receptor complex assembly is likely to be a critical component of the signaling process by which estradiol facilitates coupling of glutamatergic fluxes for NO production in neurons.
PMCID: PMC2743827  PMID: 19187438
Animals; Cells, Cultured; Estradiol; physiology; Female; Male; Neurons; cytology; enzymology; metabolism; Nitric Oxide; biosynthesis; chemistry; Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I; chemistry; metabolism; Protein Binding; physiology; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Receptors, Estrogen; chemistry; physiology; Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate; chemistry; metabolism; nNOS; NMDA receptor; estradiol; estrogen receptor; PSD-95; hypothalamus
22.  Glycine site N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist 7-CTKA produces rapid antidepressant-like effects in male rats 
Glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists exert fast-acting antidepressant effects, providing a promising way to develop a new classification of antidepressant that targets the glutamatergic system. In the present study, we examined the potential antidepressant action of 7-chlorokynurenic acid (7-CTKA), a glycine recognition site NMDA receptor antagonist, in a series of behavioural models of depression and determined the molecular mechanisms that underlie the behavioural actions of 7-CTKA.
We administered the forced swim test, novelty-suppressed feeding test, learned helplessness paradigm and chronic mild stress (CMS) paradigm in male rats to evaluate the possible rapid antidepressant-like actions of 7-CTKA. In addition, we assessed phospho-glycogen synthase kinase-3β (p-GSK3β) level, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) function, and postsynaptic protein expression in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hippocampus.
Acute 7-CTKA administration produced rapid antidepressant-like actions in several behavioural tests. It increased p-GSK3β, enhanced mTOR function and increased postsynaptic protein levels in the mPFC. Activation of GSK3β by LY294002 completely blocked the antidepressant-like effects of 7-CTKA. Moreover, 7-CTKA did not produce rewarding properties or abuse potential.
It is possible that 7-CTKA modulates glutamatergic transmission, thereby causing enduring alterations of GSK3β and mTOR signalling, although we did not provide direct evidence to support this possibility. Thus, the therapeutic involvement of synaptic adaptions engaged by 7-CTKA requires further study.
Our findings demonstrate that acute 7-CTKA administration produced rapid antidepressant-like effects, indicating that the behavioural response to 7-CTKA is mediated by GSK3β and mTOR signalling function in the mPFC.
PMCID: PMC3756114  PMID: 23611177
23.  Neuroadaptive changes in the mesocortical glutamatergic system during chronic nicotine self-administration and after extinction in rats 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;106(2):943-956.
Nicotine self-administration causes adaptation in the mesocorticolimbic glutamatergic system, including the up-regulation of ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits. We therefore determined the effects of nicotine self-administration and extinction on NMDA-induced glutamate neurotransmission between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and ventral tegmental area (VTA). On day 19 of nicotine SA, both regions were microdialyzed for glutamate while mPFC was sequentially perfused with Kreb’s Ringer buffer (KRB), 200 μM NMDA, KRB, 500 μM NMDA, KRB, and 100 mM KCl. Basal glutamate levels were unaffected, but nicotine self-administration significantly potentiated mPFC glutamate release to 200 μM NMDA, which was ineffective in controls. Furthermore, in VTA, nicotine self-administration significantly amplified glutamate responses to both mPFC infusions of NMDA. This hyper-responsive glutamate neurotransmission and enhanced glutamate subunit expression were reversed by extinction. Behavioral studies also showed that a microinjection of 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (NMDA-R antagonist) into mPFC did not affect nicotine or sucrose self-administration. However, in VTA, NBQX (AMPA-R antagonist) attenuated both nicotine and sucrose self-administration. Collectively, these studies indicate that mesocortical glutamate neurotransmission adapts to chronic nicotine self-administration and VTA AMPA-R may be involved in the maintenance of nicotine self-administration.
PMCID: PMC2587995  PMID: 18466321
GABA; glutamate; in vivo microdialysis; medial prefrontal cortex; ventral tegmental area
24.  Glutamatergic deficits and parvalbumin-containing inhibitory neurons in the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia 
BMC Psychiatry  2009;9:71.
We have previously reported that the expression of the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for the NR2A subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) class of glutamate receptor was decreased in a subset of inhibitory interneurons in the cerebral cortex in schizophrenia. In this study, we sought to determine whether a deficit in the expression of NR2A mRNA was present in the subset of interneurons that contain the calcium buffer parvalbumin (PV) and whether this deficit was associated with a reduction in glutamatergic inputs in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in schizophrenia.
We examined the expression of NR2A mRNA, labeled with a 35S-tagged riboprobe, in neurons that expressed PV mRNA, visualized with a digoxigenin-labeled riboprobe via an immunoperoxidase reaction, in twenty schizophrenia and twenty matched normal control subjects. We also immunohistochemically labeled the glutamatergic axon terminals with an antibody against vGluT1.
The density of the PV neurons that expressed NR2A mRNA was significantly decreased by 48-50% in layers 3 and 4 in the subjects with schizophrenia, but the cellular expression of NR2A mRNA in the PV neurons that exhibited a detectable level of this transcript was unchanged. In addition, the density of vGluT1-immunoreactive boutons was significantly decreased by 79% in layer 3, but was unchanged in layer 5 of the PFC in schizophrenia.
These findings suggest that glutamatergic neurotransmission via NR2A-containing NMDA receptors on PV neurons in the PFC may be deficient in schizophrenia. This may disinhibit the postsynaptic excitatory circuits, contributing to neuronal injury, aberrant information flow and PFC functional deficits in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC2784456  PMID: 19917116
25.  Gestational nicotine exposure regulates expression of AMPA and NMDA receptors and their signaling apparatus in developing and adult rat hippocampus 
Neuroscience  2011;188:168-181.
Untimely activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) by nicotine results in short- and long-term consequences on learning and behavior. In this study, the aim was to determine how prenatal nicotine exposure affects components of glutamatergic signaling in the hippocampus during postnatal development. We investigated regulation of both nAChRs and glutamate receptors for α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), from postnatal day (P) 1 to P63 after a temporally restricted exposure to saline or nicotine for 14 days in utero. We analyzed postsynaptic density components associated with AMPAR and NMDAR signaling: Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II α (CaMKIIα), Calmodulin (CaM), and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD95), as well as presynaptically localized synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP25). At P1, there was significantly heightened expression of AMPAR subunit GluR1 but not GluR2, and of NMDAR subunits NR1, NR2a and NR2d but not NR2b. NR2c was not detectable. At P1, the postsynaptic proteins CaMKIIα, CaM, and PSD95 were also significantly upregulated, together with presynaptic SNAP25. This enhanced expression of glutamate receptors and signaling proteins was concomitant with elevated levels of [3H] Epibatidine (EB) binding in prenatal nicotine-exposed hippocampus, indicating that α4β2 nAChR may influence glutamatergic function in the hippocampus at P1. By P14, neither [3H]EB binding nor the expression levels of subunits GluR1, GluR2, NR1, NR2a, NR2b, NR2c, or NR2d seemed changed with prenatal nicotine. However, CaMKIIα was significantly upregulated with nicotine treatment while CaM showed downregulation at P14. The effects of nicotine persisted in young adult brains at P63. They exhibited significantly downregulated GluR2, NR1, and NR2c expression levels in hippocampal homogenates and a considerably muted overall distribution of [3H]AMPA binding in areas CA1, CA2, CA3, and the dentate gyrus. Our results suggest that prenatal nicotine exposure can regulate the glutamatergic signaling system throughout postnatal development by enhancing or inhibiting availability of AMPAR and NMDAR or their signaling components. The persistent depression, in adults, of the requisite NR1 subunit for NMDAR assembly, and of GluR2, important for assembly, trafficking, and biophysical properties of AMPAR, indicates that nicotine may alter ionotropic glutamate receptor stoichiometry and functional properties in adults after prenatally restricted exposure.
PMCID: PMC3117944  PMID: 21596105
prenatal nicotine; developing hippocampus; AMPAR; NMDAR; nAChR; postsynaptic signaling

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