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AMPA Receptor Potentiators for the Treatment of CNS Disorders

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Glutamate α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors mediate most of the excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian central nervous system and also participate in forms of synaptic plasticity thought to underlie memory and learning, and the formation of neural networks during development. Molecular cloning techniques have shown that the AMPA receptor family is composed of four different subunits named GluR1-4 or GluRA-D (newly termed as GluA1-GluA4) and native AMPA receptors are most likely tetramers generated by the assembly of one or more of these subunits, yielding homomeric or heteromeric receptors. Additional complexity among AMPA receptors is conferred by alternative splicing of RNA for each subunit giving rise to flip and flop variants.

Clinical and experimental data have suggested that positive modulation of AMPA receptors may be therapeutically effective in the treatment of cognitive deficits. Several classes of AMPA receptor potentiators have been reported, including pyrroliddones (piracetam, aniracetam), benzothiazides (cyclothiazide), benzylpiperidines (CX-516, CX- 546) and more recently biarylpropylsulfonamides (LY392098, LY404187 and LY503430). These molecules enhance cognitive function in rodents, which appears to correlate with increased hippocampal activity. In addition, clinical studies have suggested that AMPA receptor modulators enhance cognitive function in elderly subjects, as well as patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Several independent studies have suggested that AMPA receptors can increase BDNF expression by both calciumdependent and independent pathways. For example, recent studies have shown that AMPA receptors interact with the protein tyrosine kinase, Lyn. Activation of Lyn can recruit the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway and increase the expression of BDNF. Therefore, in addition to directly enhancing glutamatergic synaptic transmission, AMPA receptor activation can increase the expression of BDNF in vitro and in vivo. This may account for activity of AMPA receptor potentiators in rodent models predicitive of antidepressant activity (forced swim and tail suspension tests). The increase in neurotrophin expression also may contribute to the functional, neuroprotective and neurotrophic actions of LY404187 and LY503430 after infusion of 6-OHDA into the substantia nigra.

In conclusion, several potent, selective and systemically active AMPA receptor potentiators have been reported. Data indicate that these molecules modulate glutamatergic transmission, enhance synaptic transmission, long-term potentiation (LTP) and increase neurotrophin expression. Therefore, these AMPA receptor potentiators offer an exciting new class of drugs with potential for treating (1) cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, (2) depression, (3) slowing the progression and potentially enhancing recovery from Parkinson's disease.
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Keywords: ampa receptor potentiator; bdnf; cognition; cx-516; cyclothiazide; depression; glutamate; ltp; ly404187; ly503430

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Lilly Research Centre, Erl Wood Manor,Windlesham, Surrey GU20 6PH, U.K

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS 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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