The postsynaptic AMPA/kainate and N-methyl-d-aspartate-selective glutamate receptors are formed by zseveral different subunits and the overall subunit composition of the receptor appears to determine its physiological and pharmacological properties. Although glutamatergic mechanisms have been implicated in various forms of hippocampal stress responses, the impact of stress on glutamate receptor subunit composition has not yet been elucidated. We have used cell-by-cell quantitative in situ hybridization to assess stress-induced changes in transcript levels of N-methyl-d-aspartate and AMPA receptor subunit genes in subdivisions of the rat hippocampus and hypothalamus that are implicated in the stress response. We found that 24 h after a single immobilization stress there was a significant increase in the cellular level of NR1 subunit messenger RNA (about 35-45% above control values) in hippocampal CA3 and CA1 pyramidal cells as well as in neurons of the hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. Moreover, in the CA3 area we have detected a concomitant increase (50% above controls) in the level of NR2B subunit messenger RNA, while the expression of NR2A subunit gene did not change after stress. Stress induced a selective decrease in the level of AMPA receptor subunit glutamate receptor A messenger RNA in neurons of both the CA3 and CA1 areas (18 and 24, respectively, below control values). These results suggest that the regulation of specific subunit messenger RNAs of the N-methyl-d-aspartate and AMPA receptors may be involved in altered hippocampal and hypothalamic responsiveness to glutamate and thus could play a critical role in stress-induced changes in their function.
- alfa-amino-3-hydroxy-S-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid
- paraventricular nucleus
- supraoptic nucleus
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