Journal of neural transmission (Vienna, Austria : 1996)

Antioxidants L-carnitine and D-methionine modulate neuronal activity through GABAergic inhibition.

PMID 24532255


Antioxidants are well known for their neuroprotective properties against reactive oxygen species in cortical neurons and auditory cells. We recently identified L-carnitine and D-methionine to be among agents that provide such protection. Here, we investigated their neuronal modulatory actions. We used cultured neuronal networks grown on microelectrode arrays to assess the effects of L-carnitine and D-methionine on network function. Spike production and burst properties of neuronal networks were used as parameters to monitor pharmacological responses. L-Carnitine and D-methionine reduced spike activity with 100% efficacy with EC50 values of 0.22 (± 0.01) mM and 1.06 (± 0.05) mM, respectively. In the presence of 1.0-40 μM of the GABAA antagonist bicuculline, the sigmoidal concentration-response curves of both compounds exhibited stepwise shifts, without a change in efficacy. Under a maximal bicuculline concentration of 40 μM, the EC50 increased to 3.57 (± 0.26) mM for L-carnitine and to 10.52 (± 0.97) mM for D-methionine, more than a tenfold increase. The agonist-antagonist interactions with bicuculline were estimated by Lineweaver-Burk plot analyses to be competitive, corroborated by the computed dissociation constants of bicuculline. For both compounds, the effects on the network burst pattern, activity reversibility, and bicuculline antagonism resembled that elicited by the GABAA agonist muscimol. We showed that the antioxidants L-carnitine and D-methionine modulate cortical electrical spike activity primarily through GABAA receptor activation. Our findings suggest the involvement of GABAergic mechanisms that perhaps contribute to the protective actions of these compounds.