Glutamate receptors in the mammalian central nervous system

Prog Neurobiol. 1998 Apr;54(5):581-618. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0082(97)00085-3.


Glutamate receptors (GluRs) mediate most of the excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). In addition, they are involved in plastic changes in synaptic transmission as well as excitotoxic neuronal cell death that occurs in a variety of acute and chronic neurological disorders. The GluRs are divided into two distinct groups, ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. The ionotropic receptors (iGluRs) are further subdivided into three groups: alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA), kainate and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor channels. The metabotropic receptors (mGluRs) are coupled to GTP-binding proteins (G-proteins), and regulate the production of intracellular messengers. The application of molecular cloning technology has greatly advanced our understanding of the GluR system. To date, at least 14 cDNAs of subunit proteins constituting iGluRs and 8 cDNAs of proteins constituting mGluRs have been cloned in the mammalian CNS, and the molecular structure, distribution and developmental change in the CNS, functional and pharmacological properties of each receptor subunit have been elucidated. Furthermore, the obtained clones have provided valuable tools for conducting studies to clarify the physiological and pathophysiological significances of each subunit. For example, the generation of gene knockout mice has disclosed critical roles of some GluR subunits in brain functions. In this article, we review recent progress in the research for GluRs with special emphasis on the molecular diversity of the GluR system and its implications for physiology and pathology of the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Mammals
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology*


  • Receptors, Glutamate