Experimental brain research

Evidence that non-NMDA receptors are involved in the excitatory pathway from the pedunculopontine region to nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons.

PMID 1351000


Extracellular single-neuron recordings were obtained from electrophysiologically identified nigrostriatal neurons in chloral hydrate anesthetized rats, in order to test the hypothesis that excitatory amino acid receptors are involved in responses of these neurons to electrical stimulation of the pontine region where the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) is located. The effects of iontophoretic application of excitatory amino acids and their antagonists as well as of cholinergic antagonists were tested on the fast orthodromic excitation of nigrostriatal neurons evoked by stimulation of the PPN region. The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist D-alpha-aminoadipic acid as well as the cholinergic receptor antagonists mecamylamine and atropine failed to suppress the synaptic excitation of nigral neurons. The NMDA receptor antagonist DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate exerted a weak depressant action on the synaptic response in a few neurons only. On the contrary, the broad spectrum antagonists of excitatory amino acid receptors kynurenic acid and gamma-D-glutamyl-amino-methyl-sulphonate were found to block simultaneously both the synaptic excitation and the neuronal responses to iontophoretic pulses of glutamate while leaving unaffected the neuronal responses to local application of acetylcholine or carbachol. The competitive antagonist of non-NMDA receptors 6-cyano-2,3-dihydroxy-7-nitro-quinoxaline suppressed the synaptic excitation at ejection currents which antagonized neuronal responses to quisqualate and kainate. These results suggest that PPN excitatory fibers synapsing onto pars compacta nigrostriatal neurons utilize an excitatory amino acid as a synaptic transmitter acting preferentially on non-NMDA receptors.

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γ-D-Glutamylaminomethylsulfonic acid
γ-D-Glutamylaminomethylsulfonic acid, solid