Amantadine and memantine are NMDA receptor antagonists with neuroprotective properties

J Neural Transm Suppl. 1994;43:91-104.


The pharmacological inhibition of excitatory amino acid neurotransmission has evolved to be a major topic in neuropharmacology since enhanced synaptic action of glutamate and possibly other related neurotransmitters has been suggested to play a role both in acute neurological conditions such as ischemia and epilepsy and in chronic degenerative neurological diseases including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's disease. While antagonists at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type glutamate receptors include psychotomimetic and neurotoxic agents such as phencyclidine and MK-801, the aminoadamantanes represent a class of drugs which may be largely free of such actions and which have already been used clinically as antiviral and antiparkinsonian agents. Multiple in vitro studies have recently delineated the neuroprotective properties of amantadine, and of its more potent congener, memantine, which appear to mediate neuroprotection via inhibition of NMDA receptor-dependent glutamate activity. Thus, neuroprotection targeting glutamate receptors does apparently not have to be associated with prominent psychotogenicity, and the development and evaluation of new neuroprotective drugs will have to performed in consideration both of the relative safety and of the good clinical effect of the already known and established aminoadamantanes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adamantane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adamantane / pharmacology
  • Adamantane / poisoning
  • Amantadine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Memantine / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Hallucinogens
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Amantadine
  • Adamantane
  • Dopamine
  • Memantine