Polyamine Regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptor Channels

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1995;35:463-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pa.35.040195.002335.


Endogenous polyamines such as spermine and spermidine have multiple effects in the central nervous system and have been suggested to be neurotransmitters or neuromodulators. One effect of the polyamines is to regulate the activity of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) channel subtype of glutamate receptor channels. The effects of polyamines on NMDAR currents are complex, suggesting the presence of one or more polyamine-binding sites on the receptor channel. Electrophysiological studies have shown that polyamines enhance NMDAR currents by increasing channel opening frequency and by increasing the affinity of the receptor for glycine. Polyamines have been shown to reduce NMDAR currents by producing voltage-dependent reduction of single-channel amplitudes and/or by producing an open channel block. Recent molecular biological studies have shown that the polyamine effects on NMDAR channels involve interactions with multiple NMDAR subunits and are characterizing the structural basis for the polyamine regulation of NMDAT receptor channels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*


  • Polyamines
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate