The mechanism of action of aniracetam on α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors was examined in outside-out patches and at glutamatergic synapses in neurons of the chick cochlear nucleus. A combination of rapid-flow analysis, using glutamate as an agonist, and kinetic modeling indicated that aniracetam slows both the rate of channel closing, and the microscopic rates of desensitization, even for partially liganded receptors. Little effect was observed on the rate of recovery from desensitization or on the response to the weakly desensitizing agonist kainate. Aniracetam's effects on receptor deactivation saturated at lower concentrations than its effects on desensitization, suggesting that cooperativity between homologous binding sites was required to regulate desensitization. Analysis of responses to paired pulses of agonist also indicated that AMPA receptors must desensitize partially even after agonist exposures too brief to permit rebinding. In the presence of aniracetam, evoked excitatory synaptic currents (EPSCs) and miniature EPSCs in low quantal-content conditions had decay times similar to the time course of receptor deactivation. Under these conditions, the time course of both transmitter release and clearance must be <1 to 2 ms. However, in high quantal-content conditions, the evoked EPSC in aniracetam decayed with a time course intermediate between deactivation and desensitization, suggesting that the time course of transmitter clearance is prolonged because of pooling of transmitter in the synaptic cleft. Moreover, by comparing the amounts of paired-pulse synaptic depression and patch desensitization prevented by aniracetam, we conclude that significant desensitization occurs in response to rebinding of transmitter to the AMPA receptors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine