Experience-dependent changes in NMDAR1 expression in the visual cortex of an animal model for amblyopia

Vis Neurosci. Jul-Aug 2004;21(4):653-70. doi: 10.1017/S0952523804214146.


When normal binocular visual experience is disrupted during postnatal development, it affects the maturation of cortical circuits and often results in the development of poor visual acuity known as amblyopia. Two main factors contribute to the development of amblyopia: visual deprivation and reduced binocular competition. We investigated the affect of these two amblyogenic factors on the expression of the NMDAR1 subunit in the visual cortex because activation of the NMDA receptor is a key mechanism of developmental neural plasticity. We found that disruption of binocular correlations by monocular deprivation promoted a topographic loss of NMDAR1 expression within the cortical representations of the central visual field and the vertical and horizontal meridians. In contrast, binocular deprivation, which primarily affects visual deprivation, promoted an increase in NMDAR1 expression throughout the visual cortex. These different changes in NMDAR1 expression can be described as topographic and homeostatic plasticity of NMDA expression, respectively. In addition, the changes in NMDA expression in the visual cortex provide a greater understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie the development of amblyopia and the potential for visual recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / metabolism*
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cats
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Homeostasis
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vision, Monocular
  • Vision, Ocular*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*


  • NMDA receptor A1
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate