In general, N -methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists inhibit learning and long term potentiation (LTP). However, it has been suggested that direct tonic, i.e. non-temporal, activation of NMDA receptors, in contrast to learning, may lead to an increase in synaptic “noise” and, in turn, to a loss of association detection. In the present study, a two-choice passive avoidance task and LTP in vitro (CA1 hippocampal region) were used to address this issue. Dark avoidance learning was impaired by systemic NMDA administration (starting at 25 mg/kg) that was not related to either toxic effects or state-dependent learning. NMDA-induced amnesia was antagonized by ((+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzocyclohepten-5, 10-imine maleate (MK-801) and 1-amino-3,5-dimethyladamantane (memantine), starting at low doses of 0.05 and 2.5 mg/kg, respectively, in a bell-shaped dose-response relationship. A competitive NMDA receptor antagonist CGP-39551 failed to reverse NMDA-induced amnesia. In hippocampal slices, NMDA (10 μM) depressed (S)-α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolproprionic acid (AMPA) receptor-mediated field potentials in CA1 and also caused a moderate reduction of LTP induction/expression. It was this latter effect that was antagonized by memantine (1 μM). Thus, under conditions of tonic activation of NMDA receptors, uncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonists can paradoxically reverse deficits in learning and synaptic plasticity.
Neuropharmacology – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 1997
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