Dextrorphan inhibits the release of excitatory amino acids during spinal cord ischemia

Ann Thorac Surg. 1994 Aug;58(2):312-9; discussion 319-20. doi: 10.1016/0003-4975(94)92200-4.


The release of excitatory amino acids, particularly glutamate, into the extracellular space plays a causal role in irreversible neuronal damage after central nervous system ischemia. Dextrorphan, a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, has been shown to provide significant protection against cerebral damage after focal ischemia. We investigated the changes in extracellular neurotransmitter amino acid concentrations using in vivo microdialysis in a swine model of spinal cord ischemia. After lumbar laminectomies were performed, all animals underwent left thoracotomy and right atrial-femoral cardiopulmonary bypass with additional aortic arch perfusion. Microdialysis probes were then inserted stereotactically into the lumbar spinal cord. The probes were perfused with artificial cerebrospinal fluid and 15-minute samples were assayed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Group 1 animals (n = 9) underwent aortic clamping distal to the left subclavian and proximal to the renal arteries for 60 minutes. Group 2 animals (n = 7) were treated with dextrorphan before application of aortic clamps, and during aortic occlusion and reperfusion. Five amino acids were studied, including two excitatory neurotransmitters (glutamate and aspartate) and three putative inhibitory neurotransmitters (glycine, gamma-amino-butyric acid, and serine). Somatosensory-evoked potentials and motor-evoked potentials were monitored. Glutamate exhibited a threefold increase in extracellular concentration during normothermic ischemia compared with baseline values and remained elevated until 60 minutes after reperfusion. In animals treated with dextrorphan, glutamate concentrations decreased to one-third of baseline levels before aortic clamping and remained unchanged during ischemia and reperfusion. There was early loss of somatosensory-evoked potentials and motor-evoked potentials during ischemia in group 1 animals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Dextrorphan / pharmacology*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Microdialysis
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Amino Acid / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*
  • Swine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Glutamates
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Amino Acid
  • aspartic acid receptor
  • Dextrorphan
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Serine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine