Pharmacological receptors for excitant amino acids have been classified into three major types found within the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS). The three types of receptor are exemplified by the action of the selective agonists N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), kainate and quisqualate. Several compounds have been discovered which are selective antagonists of NMDA-evoked excitations, the most potent to date being 2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (APV). Depression of synaptic excitation by NMDA receptor antagonists indicates a physiological role of these receptors in various regions of the CNS. Potent and selective antagonists for kainate or quisqualate receptors have yet to be developed. However, glutamate diethyl ester (GDEE) and γ-D-glutamylglycine (DGG), applied microelectrophoretically, selectively depress quisqualate and kainate-evoked responses, respectively. 2-Amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (APB) and cis-2, 3-piperidine dicarboxylate (PDA) are relatively non-selective antagonists of the three types of excitant receptor. Depression of APV-resistant spinal transmission by PDA and synaptically localized kainate binding in the hippocampus suggest that kainate and/or quisqualate receptors are also involved in excitatory transmission. © 1981.
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