Low affinity channel blocking (uncompetitive) NMDA receptor antagonists as therapeutic agents - Toward an understanding of their favorable tolerability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations

Abstract

Studies in experimental models have suggested that NMDA receptor antagonists may have utility in the treatment of a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, clinical trials have not been encouraging largely because the antagonists evaluated to date have exhibited unacceptable neurobehavioral side effects. In animals, therapeutic doses of some low-affinity channel blocking (uncompetitive) NMDA receptor antagonists are associated with less gross neurological impairment and behavioral toxicity than other types of NMDA receptor antagonists. Favorable clinical experiences with several such agents has bolstered confidence in the neurotherapeutic potential of low affinity NMDA antagonists. This article reviews current research attempting to explain the improved tolerability of such antagonists. While no single mechanism appears to account for the reduced toxicity of such agents, kinetic properties, particularly rapid blocking rate, seem to be of key importance. Other factors include partial trapping, reduced agonist-independent (closed channel) block, subunit selectivity (particularly for receptors that do not contain the NR2A subunit), combined block at allosteric (voltage-independent) sites, and synergistic therapeutic effects produced by additional actions at receptor targets apart from NMDA receptors (e.g., weak positive allosteric modulation of GABA(A) receptors or state-dependent Na+ channel block).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalAmino Acids
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amino acids
  • NMDA-Receptors antagonists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology

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