Modulation of the time course of fast EPSCs and glutamate channel kinetics by aniracetam

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Science  11 Oct 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5029, pp. 288-290
DOI: 10.1126/science.1681589


It is generally accepted that glutamate serves as the neurotransmitter at most excitatory synapses in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Synaptic release of glutamate may trigger a fast and a slow excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC). The slow EPSC is mediated by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor channels, whereas the fast EPSC is mediated by non-NMDA receptor channels. The nootropic agent aniracetam selectively and reversibly slows the desensitization kinetics of non-NMDA channels and lengthens their single-channel open times. Antiracetam also modulates the kinetics of the fast EPSC in a manner that mirrors its action on the kinetics of the non-NMDA channels. These results support the hypothesis that the properties of the non-NMDA glutamate channels rather than the rate of neurotransmitter clearance are the primary determinants of the kinetics of the fast EPSC in the mammalian CNS.