NMDA and non-NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity are potentiated in cultured striatal neurons by prior chronic depolarization

Quan Chen*, D. James Surmeier, Anton Reiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The excitatory input from cortex and/or thalamus to striatum appears to promote the maturation of glutamate receptors on striatal neurons, but the mechanisms by which it does so have been uncertain. To explore the possibility that the excitatory input to striatum might influence glutamate receptor maturation on striatal neurons, at least in part, by its depolarizing effect on striatal neurons, we examined the influence of chronic KCl depolarization on the development of glutamate receptor-mediated excitotoxic vulnerability and glutamate receptors in cultured striatal neurons. Dissociated striatal neurons from E17 rat embryos were cultured for 2 weeks in Barrett's medium containing either low (3 mM) or high (25 mM) KCl. The vulnerability of these neurons to NMDA receptor agonists (NMDA and quinolinic acid), non-NMDA receptor agonists (AMPA and KA), and a metabotropic glutamate receptor agonist (trans-ACPD) was examined by monitoring cell loss 24 h after a 1-h agonist exposure. We found that high- KCl rearing potentiated the cell loss observed with 500 μM NMDA or 250 μM KA and yielded cell loss with 250 μM AMPA that was not evident under low KCl rearing. In contrast, neither QA up to 5 mM nor trans-ACPD had a significant toxic effect in either KCl group. ELISA revealed that chronic high KCl doubled the abundance of NMDA NR2A/B, AMPA GluR2/3, and KA GluR5-7 receptor subunits on cultured striatal neurons and more than doubled AMPA GluR1 and GluR4 subunits, but had no effect on NMDA NR1 subunit levels. These receptor changes may contribute to the potentiation of NMDA and non-NMDA receptor- mediated excitotoxicity shown by these neurons following chronic high-KCl rearing. Our studies suggest that membrane depolarization produced by corticostriatal and/or thalamostriatal innervation may be required for maturation of glutamate receptors on striatal neurons, and such maturation may be important for expression of NMDA and non-NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity by striatal neurons. Striatal cultures raised under chronically depolarized conditions may, thus, provide a more appropriate culture model to study the role of NMDA or non-NMDA receptor subtypes in excitotoxicity in striatum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Basal ganglia
  • Chronic depolarization
  • Excitotoxicity
  • NMDA receptors
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Non-NMDA receptors
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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