Tonic activation of NMDA receptors by ambient glutamate enhances excitability of neurons

Science  10 Nov 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4931, pp. 815-818
DOI: 10.1126/science.2573153


Voltage clamp recordings and noise analysis from pyramidal cells in hippocampal slices indicate that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are tonically active. On the basis of the known concentration of glutamate in the extracellular fluid, this tonic action is likely caused by the ambient glutamate level. NMDA receptors are voltage-sensitive, thus background activation of these receptors imparts a regenerative electrical property to pyramidal cells, which facilitates the coupling between dendritic excitatory synaptic input and somatic action potential discharge in these neurons.

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