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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Remifentanil directly activates human N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes.

BACKGROUND: Clinical studies suggest that intraoperative administration of the clinical remifentanil formulation Ultiva (GlaxoWellcome GmbH & Co, Bad Oldesloe, Germany) increases postoperative pain and postoperative analgesic requirements, but mechanisms remain unclear. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are thought to play a major role in development of postoperative pain and opiate tolerance. The authors hypothesized that Ultiva directly stimulates human NMDA receptors. METHODS: To test this hypothesis, the authors expressed human NR1A/NR2A and NR1A/NR2B NMDA receptors in Xenopus laevis oocytes by injection of messenger RNA prepared in vitro. After protein expression, they used a two-electrode voltage clamp to measure currents induced by NMDA receptor agonists and opioids. RESULTS: Noninjected cells were unresponsive to all compounds tested. Glutamate/glycine (1 nM-1 mM each) or Ultiva (0.01 pM-0.1 mM) stimulated NMDA receptors concentration dependently. NR1A/2A EC50 values were 8.0 microM/12 microM for glutamate/glycine and 3.5 nM for Ultiva, and NR1A/2B EC50 values were 3.9 microM/1.9 microM for glutamate/glycine and 0.82 microM for Ultiva. Glycine in combination with Ultiva showed no additive effect compared with Ultiva alone. Ultiva-induced currents were inhibited by MK-801 (pore blocker) but not by 7-CK (glycine antagonist), D-AP5 (glutamate antagonist), or naloxone. Fentanyl (10 microM) did not stimulate NMDA receptors. CONCLUSION: These data indicate that Ultiva but not fentanyl stimulates NMDA receptors of different subunit combinations (NR1A/2A, NR1A/2B). The mechanism seems to be allosteric activation of the NMDA receptor.[1]


  1. Remifentanil directly activates human N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Hahnenkamp, K., Nollet, J., Van Aken, H.K., Buerkle, H., Halene, T., Schauerte, S., Hahnenkamp, A., Hollmann, M.W., Strümper, D., Durieux, M.E., Hoenemann, C.W. Anesthesiology (2004) [Pubmed]
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