Neuroprotection by metabotropic glutamate receptor agonists on kainate-induced degeneration of motor neurons in spinal cord slices from adult rat

Neuropharmacology. 2000 Mar 3;39(5):903-10. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(99)00257-9.


Research has provided evidence about the role of excitotoxicity in the pathophysiology of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and suggests that AMPA/kainate receptor activation contributes greatly in mediating glutamate injury to motor neurons. The recent finding of variable expression of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor subtypes in adult rat spinal cord has prompted us to investigate their contribution to the excitotoxic process. We report here that stimulation of mGlu receptors efficiently prevents motor neuron degeneration induced by kainate. The application of kainate to lumbar spinal cord slices from adult rats induced a massive degeneration of motor neurons which became shrunken, dark and TUNEL-positive. On the contrary, no significant neurotoxicity was observed after NMDA application. A blockade of ionotropic non-NMDA receptors by CNQX, and mGlu receptor stimulation, efficiently counteracted kainate-mediated cell death. Among the various agonists for mGlu receptors, we tested 3-hydroxyphenylglycine (3HPG), which selectively stimulates group I mGlu receptors. In addition, we tested 2-(carboxycyclopropyl)glycine (L-CCG-I) and 4-carboxy-3-hydroxyphenylglycine (4C3HPG), two selective agonists for group II receptors, as well as L-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (L-AP4), a preferential agonist for group III. The results suggest that all three groups of mGlu receptors are involved in inhibiting excitotoxic phenomena mediated by kainate on spinal cord motor neurons. This was despite being localized differently and, possibly, activating different neuroprotective pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Benzoates / pharmacology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Cycloleucine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cycloleucine / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kainic Acid
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects*
  • Motor Neurons / enzymology
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Nerve Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / agonists*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / enzymology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Benzoates
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Cycloleucine
  • 1-amino-1,3-dicarboxycyclopentane
  • alpha-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Kainic Acid
  • Glycine