Expression of NMDA receptor subunit mRNA after MK-801 treatment in neonatal rats

Mary Ann Wilson, Stephen L. Kinsman, Michael V. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although NMDA receptor antagonists are neuroprotective when delivered in conjunction with NMDA, supersensitivity to NMDA-mediated injury follows dizocilpine (MK-801) administration in neonatal rats. An increase in NMDA- sensitive [3H]-glutamate binding accompanies the increase in vulnerability to excitotoxic injury. The present study tests the hypothesis that MK-801 may alter gene expression for the NMDA receptor subunits. Quantitative in situ hybridization histochemistry was used to evaluate the expression of NMDA receptor subunits NR1 and NR2A-D in neonatal rats, 2 to 4 h after treatment with MK-801. Increased mRNA for multiple NMDA receptor subunits was observed in cerebral cortex, striatum and hippocampus. The percent increase in NR2A mRNA was larger than the percent change in NR1, NR2B or NR2D. A small increase in mRNA for the metabotropic glutamate receptor mGluR5 was also observed after MK-801 treatment. These results indicate that gene expression for NMDA receptor subunits in the developing brain is rapidly altered after antagonist exposure. Increased expression of excitatory amino acid receptor subunit mRNA may contribute to the enhanced vulnerability to excitotoxic injury that has been observed after MK-801 treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-220
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 8 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Antagonist
  • Development
  • NMDA receptor subunit
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Supersensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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