, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 657-668

Molecular mechanisms of glutamate-dependent neurodegeneration in ischemia and traumatic brain injury

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Stroke and neurotrauma mediate neuronal death through a series of events that involve multiple interdependent molecular pathways. It has been suggested that these pathways are triggered following elevations in extracellular excitatory amino acids, primarily glutamate [1]. This report outlines mechanisms involving glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity with specific focus on (i) the role of Ca2+ in neurotoxicity, (ii) The concept of ‘source specificity’ of neurotoxicity, (iii) the role of the ionotropic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-subtype glutamate receptor and its associated submembrane molecules that may give rise to signaling specificity in excitotoxicity and (iv) the role of glutamate-mediated free-radical generation and associated cell death pathways. We also highlight a novel, peptide-based approach for uncoupling NMDA receptors from excitotoxicity in the rat central nervous system subjected to focal ischemia, thereby reducing stroke infarct volume and improving neurological functioning.

Received 11 August 2003; received after revision 15 September 2003; accepted 17 September 2003