Article

Glutamate and anxiety disorders.

Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.
Current Psychiatry Reports (Impact Factor: 3.05). 09/2007; 9(4):278-83. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-007-0033-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders, but they represent a particular challenge for treatment. The standard first-line treatments, including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and buspirone, result in significant response rates for a majority of patients; however, unfavorable side effect profiles or risk for dependency for particular agents might limit their use by anxious patients, who often have low thresholds for medication discontinuation. Novel pharmacologic agents that modulate particular receptors, ion channels, or transporters relevant to glutamatergic neurotransmission may represent a new approach to the treatment of anxiety disorders, with generally more favorable side effect profiles. Although the role of glutamate in the pathophysiology of anxiety disorders is still being elucidated, the use of these agents in treatment of anxiety disorders and commonly comorbid conditions such as substance abuse and mood disorders will continue to increase.

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    ABSTRACT: AimAnxiety is one of common mood disorders, in which the deficit of serotonergic and GABAergic synaptic functions in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex is believed to be involved. The pathological changes at the glutamatergic synapses and neurons in these brain regions as well as their underlying mechanisms remain elusive, which we aim to investigate.Methods An agonist of kainate-type glutamate receptors, kainic acid, was applied to induce anxiety-related behaviors. The morphology and functions of glutamatergic synapses in the prelimbic region of mouse prefrontal cortex were analyzed using cellular imaging and electrophysiology.ResultsAfter kainate-induced anxiety is onset, the signal transmission at the glutamatergic synapses is upregulated, and the dendritic spine heads are enlarged. In terms of the molecular mechanisms, the upregulated synaptic plasticity is associated with the expression of more protein kinase C (PKC) in the dendritic spines. Chelerythrine, a PKC inhibitor, reverses kainate-induced anxiety and anxiety-related glutamatergic synapse upregulation.Conclusion The activation of glutamatergic kainate-type receptors leads to anxiety-related behaviors and glutamatergic synapse upregulation through protein kinase C in the prelimbic region of the mouse prefrontal cortex.
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