Memantine selectively blocks extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in rat substantia nigra dopamine neurons

Yan Na Wu, Steven W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that selective block of extrasynaptic N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors might protect against neurodegeneration. We recorded whole-cell currents with patch pipettes to characterize the ability of memantine, a low-affinity NMDA channel blocker, to block synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in substantia nigra zona compacta (SNC) dopamine neurons in slices of rat brain. Pharmacologically isolated NMDA receptor-mediated EPSCs were evoked by electrical stimulation, whereas synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors were activated by superfusing the slice with NMDA (10 μM). Memantine was 15-fold more potent for blocking currents evoked by bath-applied NMDA compared to synaptic NMDA receptors. Increased potency for blocking bath-applied NMDA currents was shared by the GluN2C/GluN2D noncompetitive antagonist DQP-1105 but not by the high-affinity channel blocker MK-801. Our data suggest that memantine causes a selective block of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors that are likely to contain GluN2C/2D subunits. Our results justify further investigations on the use of memantine as a neuroprotective agent in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Apr 7 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain slice
  • DQP-1105
  • Extrasynaptic
  • MK-801
  • Synaptic
  • Whole-cell recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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