Localization of NMDA receptors in the cerebral cortex: A schematic overview

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The fundamental role of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in many cortical functions has been firmly defined, as has its involvement in a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases. However, until recently very little was known about the anatomical localization of NMDA receptors in the cerebral cortex of mammals. The recent application of molecular biological techniques to the study of NMDA receptors has provided specific tools which have greatly expanded our understanding of the localization of NMDA receptors in the cerebral cortex. In particular, immunocytochemical studies on the distribution of cortical NMDA receptors have shown that NMDA receptors are preferentially localized on dendritic spines, have disclosed an unknown fraction of presynaptic NMDA receptors on both excitatory and inhibitory axon terminals, and demonstrated that cortical astrocytes do express NMDA receptors. These studies suggest that the effects induced by the activation of NMDA receptors are not due solely to the opening of NMDA channels on neuronal postsynaptic membranes, as previously assumed, but that the activation of presynaptic and glial NMDA receptors may mediate part of these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-560
Number of pages6
JournalBrazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1997


  • Astrocytes
  • Autoreceptors
  • Glutamate
  • Heteroreceptors
  • Ionotropic receptors
  • Neuron-glia signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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