Phosphorylation of extracellular-regulating kinase in NMDA receptor antagonist-induced newly generated neurons in the adult rat dentate gyrus

J Neurochem. 2004 Feb;88(3):717-25. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.02215.x.


Neurogenesis in the adult brain is promoted by various stimulations. NMDA receptor blockade enhances neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. There is no agreed conclusion, however, as to whether newly generated neurons after NMDA receptor blockade obtain functional properties. We investigated the functional maturation of newly generated neurons after NMDA receptor blockade. In the dentate gyrus, 80% of newly generated cells differentiated into the phenotype of mature neurons at 29 days after the single intraperitoneal injection of an NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801. The number of newly generated neurons after MK-801 treatment was significantly greater than that in the saline-treated group. The neurogenic basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor NeuroD protein in the dentate gyrus after MK-801 treatment was expressed transiently in proliferative cells, but not in mature neurons. To determine functional properties of newly generated neurons, we administered NMDA to the lateral ventricle. As an in vivo response, we assessed extracellular-regulating kinase (ERK) phosphorylation. The newly generated neurons showed ERK phosphorylation by NMDA administration as seen in surrounding mature neurons. The number of newly generated neurons, which responded to NMDA receptor stimulation, increased with time after MK-801 treatment. The present study provides evidence that newly generated neurons in the adult hippocampus after NMDA receptor blockade acquire biochemical function in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Dentate Gyrus / drug effects
  • Dentate Gyrus / enzymology
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism*
  • Dizocilpine Maleate / pharmacology
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Neurogenic differentiation factor 1
  • Dizocilpine Maleate
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases