10 Amino Acids: Glutamate & GABA Flashcards Preview

2911 Brain and Behaviour > 10 Amino Acids: Glutamate & GABA > Flashcards

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How are glutamate and GABA neurons distributed throughout the brain?

Unlike NTs such as DA and 5-HT which have discrete areas of the brain where they are made and cells which project broadly throughout the brain, glutamate and GABA neurons are broadly distributed - don't have specific nuclei


What is the most abundant excitatory NT in the brain?



What does glutamate do?

Involved in learning, neural plasticity, memory and dark exposure. Also involved in excitotoxicity following stroke or ischemia.


What are some glutamate ant/agonists?

Agonists - NMDA, AMPA, kainate, ibotenate.
Antagonists - AP5, ketamine, PCP, MK-801


Why are NMDA and AMPA compounds and receptors?

Because these artificial compounds were first used to isolate types of receptors, which are now called NMDA and AMPA receptors


How does glutamate activate ionotropic NMDA and AMPA receptors?

AMPA receptors open as soon as glutamate binds to them -> depolarisation

NMDA receptors are usually blocked by Mg2+ ion. Slight increase in cell voltage, as well as presence of ligand, is needed for ion channel to open.

NMDA and AMPA (non-NMDA) receptors are often found together - AMPA receptors cause increase in cell voltage needed for NMDA receptors to open


Are all glutamate receptors ionotropic?

No, many are metabotropic, such as mGluR2/3, mGluR1/5 etc.


What is long-term potentiation (LTP)?

A long-lasting enhancement in signal transmission between two neurons that results from stimulating them synchronously


What is tetanus?

The prolonged contraction of a muscle caused by rapidly repeated stimuli. Or in neuroscience, rapidly repeated stimulation of neuron. May be one way that synaptic strength can be modified by experience to produce learning and lasting memories


How was LTP discovered?

It was found that postsynaptic cells' response to single-pulse stimuli could be enhanced for a long period of time if a high-frequency train of stimuli (tetanus) was first delivered to the presynaptic fibers. When such a train of stimuli was applied, subsequent single-pulse stimuli elicited stronger, prolonged EPSPs in the postsynaptic cell population. This phenomenon, whereby a high-frequency stimulus could produce a long-lived enhancement in the postsynaptic cells' response to subsequent single-pulse stimuli, was eventually called LTP.


How does LTP explain classical conditioning?

In classical conditioning experiment, initial weak stimulus could be a bell; tetanus could be presentation of food or other biologically significant event. When these two things happen together, the weak stimulus can produce a greater response -> CS-CR association


What causes LTP induction at the cell level?

More NT release and more NT receptors.
When cell is subjected to tetanus, increased calcium concentration in the cell, which leads to insertion of more AMPA receptors in postsynaptic neuron. So next time presynaptic cell is stimulated, there are more receptors to respond to NT release.


Which NT is most involved in LTP?



How has it been demonstrated neurochemically that NMDA receptors are involved in LTP?

NMDA receptor antagonists block LTP


Which part of the brain has LTP been shown to happen?

Primarily in the hippocampus and neocortex - the parts of the brain associated with learning


How can the Morris Water Maze be used to test glutamate's role in learning?

If rats given glutamate antagonist AP5 during learning phase of Morris Water Maze, they show no preference for particular quadrant in test phase – they don't know where the platform is. No evidence for learning; swim as if on first time.


What does the AMPA/NMDA ratio test?

There are more AMPA receptors after LTP, so it is a way of testing whether LTP has occurred.


How does cocaine affect AMPA/NMDA ratio?

People in cocaine withdrawal have increased AMPA/NMDA ratio. This is one possible cause for cocaine sensitization effect.


What is the most abundant inhibitory NT in the brain?



Why is GABA inhibition important?

Brain wouldn't work if everything was active all the time. Must turn things off to get clear signal. Like muscles - antagonist pairs, must relax one muscle to tense other. If you tense all -> no action.


What are the two functional types of neurons of the cerebral cortex?

Principal (projection) neurons and interneurons


What are projection neurons?

The most numerous group of cortical neuron (approximately 80%), projection neurons send their axons to distant targets in the brain. They are excitatory in their influence on other cells and are characterized morphologically by having small spines on their dendritic surfaces that act as specialized sites for synaptic contact. A projection neuron typically has about 10,000 synapses on its dendritic tree; also, its axon may have a number of collateral branches, almost always using the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.


What are interneurons?

Interneurons have short axons and make connections to cells in their immediate vicinity. The less numerous (20%) group of cortical neurons, the interneurons, are generally stellate in morphology, but largely lack dendritic spines, contain GABA as their synaptic transmitter and are inhibitory in their output to other cells. Interneurons, which are of many subtypes, connect projection neurons, providing mostly logical functions via the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. They control baseline activity rates, signal-to-noise ratios etc.


What are some GABA agonists?

Benzodiazepines, barbituates, alcohol


How do GABA-A receptors work?

GABA-A receptors are ionotropic and contain a Cl- channel. This channel opens when an agonist binds to the receptor and conducts Cl- to hyperpolarize the cell (i.e. decrease voltage making it less likely to fire)


What binding sites to GABA-A receptors have?

GABA-A receptors have binding sites for benzodiazepines and barbiturates


How do GABA-B receptors work?

GABA-B receptors are metabotropic transmembrane receptors for GABA, linked via G-proteins to a potassium channel. The opening of a K+ channel also hyperpolarizes the cell - positive ions flow OUT of the cell.


Where are GABA-B receptors found?

Both pre- and post-synaptically, so they can inhibit NT release in addition to hyperpolarizing the postsynaptic cell


What are the properties of benzodiazepines?

Anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, hypnotic/sedative, anticonvulsant, amnesic, ataxic


What is ataxia?

Ataxia is a neurological sign consisting of lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements. Ataxia is a non-specific clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of the parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum.