Anatomical Organization of Excitatory Amino Acid Receptors and Their Properties

  • C. W. Cotman
  • D. T. Monaghan
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 203)


The excitatory amino acids are the major class of excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS and their actions are mediated by four or more physiologically-identified receptor classes. Electrophysiological experiments indicate that L-glutamate excitations are mediated by at least three agonistdefined receptors (N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), kainate, (KA), and quisqualate(QA); Watkins and Evans, 1981; Cotman et al., 1981; McLennan, 1981).And a fourth class characterized by the antagonism of synaptic responses by L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (L-AP4; Koerner and Cotman, 1981). In order to understand the role of these receptors in the operation of brain circuitry, several approaches are needed, all of which must ultimately be in accord. Electrophysiological studies are required to assess the functional properties and membrane conductance events, and biochemical studies are needed to characterize the detailed receptor properties and assess their regulation. These approaches have traditionally been used in studying the physiology and pharmacology of many receptors throughout the body. However, the CNS is extremely heterogeneous and multiple receptors exist in specific regions which may have different properties. Thus,in addition to traditional approaches, it is desirable to have a method which allows the direct visualization and study of biochemical properties of receptor classes in discrete brain areas. Autoradiography can be used for this purpose. We have found that when great attention is paid toward resolving the multiple receptor populations, the pharmacological properties in autoradiography closely parallel those obtained by neurophysiological analysis in the same receptor field. Until our recent studies, this was not clear and several contradictions existed. Many of these inconsistencies have now been resolved.


NMDA Receptor Molecular Layer Excitatory Amino Acid Granule Cell Layer Stratum Radiatum 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. W. Cotman
    • 1
  • D. T. Monaghan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychobiologyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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