Oligodendrocyte NMDA receptors: a novel therapeutic target

Trends Mol Med. 2006 Jul;12(7):289-92. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2006.05.004. Epub 2006 Jun 5.


Excessive glutamate signaling can lead to excitotoxicity, a phenomenon whereby over-activation of glutamate receptors initiates neuronal death. In recent years, it has been shown that glutamate can be toxic to white-matter oligodendrocytes. Up to recently, the prevailing view was that oligodendrocyte excitotoxicity is mediated by alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and kainate glutamate receptor types. Three recent studies have shown that oligodendrocytes also express N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are activated under pathological conditions. Thus, NMDA receptors seem to be a promising target for the development of new drugs to treat white-matter damage in acute and chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Cell Lineage
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Oligodendroglia / chemistry
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Receptors, Glutamate / chemistry
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate