NMDA receptor subunits change in the prefrontal cortex of pure-opioid and multi-drug abusers: a post-mortem study

  • Hamidreza Daneshparvar
  • Mitra-Sadat Sadat-Shirazi
  • Monir Fekri
  • Solmaz Khalifeh
  • Ali Ziaie
  • Nasrin Esfahanizadeh
  • Nasim Vousooghi
  • Mohammad-Reza ZarrindastEmail author
Original Paper


Addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder and is one of the most important issues in the world. Changing the level of neurotransmitters and the activities of their receptors, play a major role in the pathophysiology of substance abuse disorders. It is well-established that N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) play a significant role in the molecular basis of addiction. NMDAR has two obligatory GluN1 and two regionally localized GluN2 subunits. This study investigated changes in the protein level of GluN1, GluN2A, and GluN2B in the prefrontal cortex of drug abusers. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC), and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) were dissected from the brain of 101 drug addicts brains and were compared with the brains of non-addicts (N = 13). Western blotting technique was used to show the alteration in NMDAR subunits level. Data obtained using Western blotting technique showed a significant increase in the level of GluN1 and GluN2B, but not in GluN2A subunits in all the three regions (mPFC, lPFC, and OFC) of men whom suffered from addiction as compared to the appropriate controls. These findings showed a novel role for GluN1, GluN2B subunits, rather than the GluN2A subunit of NMDARs, in the pathophysiology of addiction and suggested their role in the drug-induced plasticity of NMDARs.


Addiction Opioid Post-mortem N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor Prefrontal cortex 



The authors acknowledge the grant support of the legal medicine research center.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 75 KB)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 36 KB)
406_2018_900_MOESM3_ESM.docx (37 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 36 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hamidreza Daneshparvar
    • 1
  • Mitra-Sadat Sadat-Shirazi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Monir Fekri
    • 2
  • Solmaz Khalifeh
    • 4
  • Ali Ziaie
    • 5
  • Nasrin Esfahanizadeh
    • 6
  • Nasim Vousooghi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mohammad-Reza Zarrindast
    • 2
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Legal Medicine Research CenterLegal Medicine OrganizationTehranIran
  2. 2.Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies (INCAS)Tehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Neuroscience, School of Advanced Technologies in MedicineTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  4. 4.Cognitive and Neuroscience research Center (CNRC)Islamic Azad University, Tehran Medical Sciences BranchTehranIran
  5. 5.Legal Medicine CenterTehranIran
  6. 6.Department of Periodontics, Tehran Dental BranchIslamic Azad UniversityTehranIran
  7. 7.Department of Pharmacology, School of MedicineTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

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