Multiple effects of spermine on N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor responses of rat cultured hippocampal neurones

J Physiol. 1993 May;464:131-63. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1993.sp019627.


1. The modulation by polyamines of responses to N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) was studied using a rapid perfusion system and whole-cell voltage-clamp recording from rat hippocampal neurons in dissociated culture. 2. Concentration jump responses to 100 microM NMDA in the presence of 10 microM glycine revealed potentiation by 3 mM spermine at a membrane potential of +60 mV, but depression at -120 mV; the degree of potentiation at +60 mV was variable from cell to cell while marked depression at -120 mV was observed in all cells. The depression of responses to NMDA by spermine was highly voltage dependent (z delta = 1.17) with an apparent equilibrium dissociation constant for block at 0 mV of 27 mM. 3. Analysis of spermine dose-potentiation curves for responses recorded at +60 mV in the presence of 10 microM glycine revealed a half-maximal effect at 125 microM. Under the same conditions, but at -60 mV, analysis of spermine-evoked depression was performed for cells with less than 5% potentiation at +60 mV, and revealed half-maximal inhibition at 344 microM. 4. Dose-response analysis for the glycine-sensitive activation of NMDA receptors at +60 mV revealed a 3.5-fold increase in apparent affinity for glycine in the presence of 1 mM spermine. This increase in affinity for glycine was accompanied by a 3.3-fold decrease in the rate of development of glycine-sensitive desensitization, and a 2.4-fold decrease in the rate of dissociation of glycine from NMDA receptors, while the rate constant for dissociation of NMDA was not reduced. 5. In the presence of non-saturating concentrations of glycine, spermine-induced potentiation at +60 mV developed with two exponential components: a slow glycine-sensitive component, the amplitude and time constant of which decreased with increasing glycine concentration (30 nM glycine, amplitude = 80.2 +/- 5.1%, tau = 780 +/- 79 ms; 3 microM glycine, amplitude = 22.6 +/- 7.1%, tau = 45 +/- 13 ms), and a faster component (tau < 20 ms at all concentrations of glycine), the amplitude of which varied from cell to cell, and which became larger with increase in concentration of glycine. When responses to the application of spermine were measured in the presence 10 microM L-alanine instead of 100 nM glycine, the slow component of potentiation was absent.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials
  • N-Methylaspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / drug effects
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Spermine / pharmacology*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Spermine
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Glycine