Phencyclidine (PCP) is a noncompetitive, open channel blocker of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-ion channel complex. When administered to immature animals, it is known to cause apoptotic neurodegeneration in several regions, and this is followed by olanzapine-sensitive, schizophrenia-like behaviors in late adolescence and adulthood. Clarification of its mechanism of action could yield data that would help to inform the treatment of schizophrenia. In our initial experiments, we found that α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazoleproprionic acid (AMPA) inhibited PCP-induced apoptosis in organotypic neonatal rat brain slices in a concentration-dependent and 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione-sensitive manner. Calcium signaling pathways are widely implicated in apoptosis, and PCP prevents calcium influx through NMDA receptor channels. We therefore hypothesized that AMPA could protect against this effect by activation of voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs). In support of this hypothesis, pretreatment with the calcium channel blocker cadmium chloride eliminated AMPA-mediated protection against PCP. Furthermore, the L-type VDCC inhibitor nifedipine (10 μM) fully abrogated the effects of AMPA, suggesting that L-type VDCCs are required for AMPA-mediated protection against PCP-induced neurotoxicity. Whereas the P/Q-type inhibitor ω-agatoxin TK (200 nM) reduced AMPA protection by 51.7%, the N-type VDCC inhibitor ω-conotoxin (2 μM) had no effect. Decreased AMPA-mediated protection following cotreatment with K252a, a TrkB inhibitor, suggests that brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling plays an important role. By analogy, these results suggest that activation of L-type, and to a lesser extent P/Q-type, VDCCs might be advantageous in treating conditions associated with diminished NMDAergic activity during early development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience