Excitatory amino acids and neuronal plasticity: modulation of AMPA receptors as a novel substrate for the action of nootropic drugs

Funct Neurol. Sep-Oct 1992;7(5):413-22.


The nootropic drug, aniracetam, behaves as a positive modulator of AMPA-sensitive glutamate receptors in a variety of systems, including intact brain tissue, amphibian oocytes injected with rat brain mRNA, and cultured neurons. In electrophysiological studies, aniracetam both increases the peak amplitude and reduces the rate of decay of the ion current generated by AMPA or quisqualate. In cultured neurons, aniracetam (as well as oxiracetam and piracetam) enhances the stimulation of 45Ca2+ influx produced by AMPA but not that produced by kainate or NMDA. In addition, aniracetam (as other nootropic drugs) increases the maximal density of low affinity binding sites for [3H]AMPA in crude synaptic membranes. Positive modulation of AMPA receptors by aniracetam provides a novel molecular substrate which explains the clinical efficacy of nootropic drugs as memory and cognition enhancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Pyrrolidinones / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate / drug effects*
  • Synaptic Membranes / drug effects
  • Xenopus


  • Amino Acids
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • aniracetam
  • Calcium