Brain research

AMPA receptor-mediated slow neuronal death in the rat spinal cord induced by long-term blockade of glutamate transporters with THA.

PMID 9383006


Excitotoxicity secondary to the loss of glutamate transporters (GluT) has been proposed as a possible pathogenetic mechanism for neuronal degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We therefore investigated whether prolonged in vivo pharmacologic inhibition of GluT would result in neuronal damage in the rat. DL-Threo-beta-hydroxyaspartate (THA), a potent GluT inhibitor, and glutamate were continuously infused into the rat spinal subarachnoid space by using a mini-osmotic pump. Animals that received both THA and glutamate, but not those received either singly, displayed tail paralysis with or without hind-limb paralysis and urinary incontinence after the third postoperative day. Pathologically, symptomatic animals exhibited neuronal loss with a variable extent of gliosis preferentially involving the dorsal horn of the lumbosacral cord. In the rostral spinal segments adjacent to those regions of intense pathologic changes, small neurons in the dorsal horn were selectively destroyed, a pattern similar to the late-onset neuronal damage induced by continuous intrathecal administration of 1-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) [R. Nakamura et al., Brain Res. 654 (1994) 279-285]. These behavioral and pathologic changes were blocked by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), suggesting that pharmacologic blockade of GluT causes selective neuronal damage in vivo by AMPA receptor activation.

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DL-threo-β-Hydroxyaspartic acid