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NMDA Receptors and Learning and Memory Processes

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In the first part of this review studies are considered in which pre- or post-training peripheral or intracerebroventricular administrations of competitive or noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists were carried out in a variety of animal species tested in different experimental conditions, in order to investigate the effects of these drugs on acquisition and memory processes. In particular, post-training treatments, which are known to affect memory consolidation, ruling out the possible aspecific effects linked to the pre-training administrations, show that the NMDA receptor antagonists impair memory in animals tested in various tasks. Memory impairments are also evident when the NMDA antagonists (in particular AP5) are injected into different brain structures, including amygdala and hippocampus.

In a second part of this review some recent studies are considered showing the existence of: a) cholinergic-glutamatergic interactions; b) interactions between NMDA receptors and opioid system, and c) interactions between NMDA receptor antagonists (MK-801) and cocaine, in the modulation of memory processes of laboratory animals.

The results of some studies showing the involvement of glutamatergic mechanisms in Alzheimers disease are finally reported, and the therapeutic efficacy of glutamatergic drugs in the treatment of this disease is considered.
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Keywords: 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid; MK-801; NMDA Receptors; glutamatergic drugs; intrahippocampal infusions

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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