Journal article Open Access

Ethanol inhibits NMDA-activated ion current in hippocampal neurons

Lovinger, D.; White, G.; Weight, F.

The ion current induced by the glutamate receptor agonist N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) in voltage-clamped hippocampal neurons was inhibited by ethanol (EtOH). Inhibition increased in a concentration-dependent manner over the range 5 to 50 mM, a range that also produces intoxication. The amplitude of the NMDA-activated current was reduced 61 percent by 50 mM EtOH; in contrast, this concentration of EtOH reduced the amplitude of current activated by the glutamate receptor agonists kainate and quisqualate by only 18 and 15 percent, respectively. The potency for inhibition of the NMDA-activated current by several alcohols is linearly related to their intoxicating potency, suggesting that alcohol-induced inhibition of responses to NMDA receptor activation may contribute to the neural and cognitive impairments associated with intoxication.

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