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ABSTRACT: Overactivation of NMDA-Rs may mediate excitotoxic cell death associated with epileptic seizures, and hypoxic-ischemic conditions. We assessed whether repeated subcutaneous administration of l-glutamate to neonatal rats affects the subunit composition of NMDA-Rs. Accordingly, cortical and hippocampal tissue from 14-day-old rats was analyzed by Western blotting and RT-PCR to quantify the protein and mRNA expression of different NMDA-R subunits. In addition, tissue sections were Nissl stained to assess the cell damage in this tissue. Early exposure of neonatal rats to L-glutamate differentially affects the expression of mRNA transcripts for NMDA-R subunits in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. In the cerebral cortex, a decrease in NR2B subunit mRNA expression was observed, as well as a loss of NR1 and NR2A protein. By contrast, neonatal L-glutamate administration augmented the transcripts encoding the NR1, NR2B, and NR2C subunits in the hippocampal formation. The expression of mRNA encoding the NR2A subunit was not affected by neonatal L-glutamate administration in either of the brain regions examined. This differential expression of NMDA-R subunits following neonatal exposure to L-glutamate may represent an adaptive response of the glutamate receptors to overactivation in order to reduce the effect of high L-glutamate during the early period of life when the animal is more vulnerable to excitotoxicity.
International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience 10/2008; 27(2):197-204. · 2.03 Impact Factor