The developmental regulation of glutamate receptor-mediated calcium signaling in primary cultured rat hippocampal neurons

Neuroreport. 2013 Jun 19;24(9):492-7. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32836206b5.


We have studied the developmental changes of glutamate-induced calcium (Ca²⁺) response in primary cultured hippocampal neurons at three different stages of cultures, 3, 7-8, and 14-16 days in vitro (DIV), using fura-2 single-cell digital micro-fluorimetry. We found that glutamate-induced Ca²⁺ signaling was altered during development, and that two different ionotropic glutamate receptors, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptors (AMPARs) and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs), were differently involved in the modulation of calcium response at different stages of neuronal culture. In the stages of culture at 3 and 8 DIV, glutamate-induced Ca²⁺ influx was mostly because of AMPAR activation and subsequent opening of voltage-dependent calcium channels, as Ca²⁺ response can be largely reduced by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) and by nifedipine. In the advanced culture (14-17 DIV), glutamate-induced Ca²⁺ response was less sensitive to 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione and nifedipine. Furthermore, AMPA-induced Ca²⁺ response increased in a time-dependent manner during the cultures of 3-8 DIV and then reduced in the advanced culture of 14-17 DIV. NMDA-induced Ca²⁺ influx increased in a time-dependent manner, with a marked increase in the advanced culture (14-17 DIV). These results suggest that glutamate-induced Ca²⁺ signaling switched from AMPA-voltage-dependent calcium channel to NMDA-calcium signaling during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Calcium