Amiloride blocks glutamate-operated cationic channels and protects neurons in culture from glutamate-induced death

H. Manev, M. Bertolino, G. DeErausquin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The diuretic amiloride has been suggested as a specific inhibitor of T-type neuronal Ca2+ channels. The effects of amiloride on glutamate receptor-gated cationic channels and glutamate-induced, Ca2+-dependent neuronal death were investigated in primary neuronal cultures from neonatal rats. In primary cultures of cerebellar granule neurons of the rat, receiving 50 μM glutamate for 15 min, at 22°C, in the absence of Mg2+, about 80% of neurons were killed in about 24 hr. Exposure of neurons to such a pulse of glutamate, in the presence of various concentrations of amiloride, resulted in a dose-dependent protection from neurotoxicity (EC50 300 μM, complete protection 1 mM). In voltage-clamped cortical and cerebellar neurons of neonatal rats in primary culture, 100 μM amiloride diminished (by about 25%) glutamate- and/or NMDA-evoked cationic currents, recorded in the whole-cell mode. About 80% of the NMDA- (20 μM) stimulated current was inhibited by 700 μM amiloride. The inhibitory effect of amiloride was not voltage-dependent. In outside-out membrane patches, excised from granule cells and held at -50 mV, 100 μM amiloride changed the NMDA-elicited single channel activity into a fast flickering between the open and closed states. The noise analysis of the data revealed that, although resembling the Mg2+-induced flickering, the amiloride-induced channel block was more similar to the effects described for the action of local anaesthetics on the nicotinic cholinergic channel. The pharmacological relevance of this action of amiloride requires further characterization; the data point out the necessity of a cautious use of amiloride in studying neuronal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1110
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • amiloride
  • calcium neurotoxicity
  • channel block
  • glutamate
  • neuronal culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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