Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 83, Issue 8, pp 747–762 | Cite as

d-Serine exposure resulted in gene expression changes implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and neuronal dysfunction in male Fischer 344 rats

  • Molly E. Davidson
  • Laura A. Kerepesi
  • Armando Soto
  • Victor T. Chan


d-Serine, an endogenous amino acid, is involved in many physiological processes through its interaction with the glycine binding site of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. It has important roles in development, learning, and cell death signaling. Recent evidence suggests that decreased function of the NMDA receptor is related to the etiology of schizophrenia, and the use of d-serine as add-on therapy is beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of treatment-refractory schizophrenia. The NMDA receptor also plays a major role in neuronal cell death and neurodegeneration mediated by excitatory amino acid toxicity in ischemia, epilepsy, and trauma. Due to its co-activator function, d-serine can markedly potentiate NMDA-mediated excitotoxicity. To investigate potential adverse effects of d-serine treatment, we investigated gene expression changes in the forebrain of male F-344 rats treated with a single intraperitoneal injection of d-serine (5, 20, 50, 200, or 500 mg/kg) at 96 h post-treatment. Gene expression profiling using Affymetrix Rat Genome 230 2.0 arrays revealed that d-serine treatment resulted in up- and down-regulation of 134 and 52 genes, respectively, based on the common genes identified using three statistical methods, i.e. t test (< 0.01 over two consecutive doses), ANOVA (with adjusted Bonferonni correction for multiple testing) and significance analysis of microarray (SAM). Self organized map (SOM) clustering analysis of the differentially expressed genes showed two clusters, one with all 134 up-regulated probe sets and the other with all 52 down-regulated probe sets. The dose-response pattern of the down-regulated cluster showed nearly a perfect mirror image of that of the up-regulated one. Gene ontology analysis revealed that pathways implicated in neuronal functions and/or neurodegenerative disorders are over-represented among the differentially expressed genes. Specifically, genes involved in vesicle-mediated transport, endocytosis, ubiquitin conjugation pathway, regulation of actin filament polymerization/depolymerization, focal adhesion, Wnt signaling, and insulin signaling were up-regulated, while genes involved in RNA metabolism/splicing/processing and Notch signaling were down-regulated. Consistent with this finding, pathway analysis using GenMAPP showed a significant number of differentially expressed genes in these pathways. In addition, the GenMAPP result also showed activation of the signaling pathways of several proinflammatory cytokines (including IL-2, IL-3, IL-5, IL-6 and TNF-α), which might suggest the onset of neuroinflammation. Biological association network analysis showed that several nuclear factors implicated in transcription regulation (including Taf1, Max, Myc, and Hnf4a) are highly connected to a large number of up-regulated genes. While the transcript levels of these transcription factors were not changed, their connections to Ddx3x, a gene involved in mRNA processing and translation initiation, raise the possibility that they may be up-regulated at the post-transcriptional level. The observation that Ubqln1 and Ube2d, two differentially expressed genes involved in ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and implicated in neurodegenerative disorders, are highly connected in this network suggests a role of ubiquitination proteasome pathway in response to d-serine exposure. This finding is consistent with the result of gene ontology analysis and suggests that d-serine treatment might result in damage to cellular proteins and subsequent up-regulation of ubiquitination proteasome pathway to clear these damaged proteins. In summary, d-serine exposure resulted in perturbation of a number of pathways implicated in neuronal functions and neurodegenerative disorders. However, activation of cellular response to counter the toxic effects of d-serine might be hindered due to the down-regulation of such important cellular machinery like RNA metabolism, splicing and processing. Consequently, cell damage might be further exacerbated. Taken together, these findings highlight the potential impacts of d-serine exposure on neuronal functions.


d-Serine N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor Transcriptomic profiling Pathway analysis Neuronal dysfunction 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Molly E. Davidson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Laura A. Kerepesi
    • 2
  • Armando Soto
    • 3
  • Victor T. Chan
    • 3
  1. 1.Oak Ridge Institute for Science and EducationColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Battelle Memorial Institute, BiotechnologyColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Applied Biotechnology BranchAir Force Research Laboratory, Human Effectiveness DirectorateDaytonUSA

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