Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 81–95 | Cite as

The modulation of calcium currents by the activation of mGluRs

Functional implications
  • Alessandro Stefani
  • Antonio Pisani
  • Nicola B. Mercuri
  • Paolo Calabresi


Glutamatergic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS) is mediated by ionotropic, ligand-gated receptors (iGluRs), and metabotropic receptors (mGluRs). mGluRs are coupled to GTP-binding regulatory proteins (G-proteins) and modulate different second messenger pathways. Multiple effects have been described following their activation; among others, regulation of fast synaptic transmission, changes in synaptic plasticity, and modification of the threshold for seizure generation. Some of the major roles played by the activation of mGluRs might depend on the modulation of high-voltage-activated (HVA) calcium (Ca2+) currents. Some HVA Ca2+ channels (N-, P-, and Q-type channels) are signaling components at most presynaptic active zones. Their mGluR-mediated inhibition reduces synaptic transmission. The interference, by agonists at mGluRs, on L-type channels might affect the repetitive neuronal firing behavior and the integration of complex events at the somatic level. In addition, the mGluR-mediated effects on voltagegated Ca2+ signals have been suggested to strongly influence neurotoxicity. Rather different coupling mechanisms underlie the relation between mGluRs and Ca2+ currents: Together with a fast, membrane-delimited mechanism of action, much slower responses, involving intracellular second messengers, have also been postulated. In the recent past, the relative paucity of selective agonists and antagonists for the different subclasses of mGluRs had hampered the clear definition of the roles of mGluRs in brain function. However, the recent availability of new pharmacological tools is promising to provide a better understanding of the neuronal functions related to different mGluR subtypes. The analysis of the mGluR-mediated modulation of Ca2+ conductances will probably offer new insights into the characterization of synaptic transmission and the development of neuroprotective agents.

Index Entries

HVA Ca2+ conductances neurotransmission neuroprotection rat metabotropic receptors 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Stefani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Antonio Pisani
    • 1
  • Nicola B. Mercuri
    • 1
  • Paolo Calabresi
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinica NeurologicaUniversità di Tor VergataRome
  2. 2.RCCS Clinica Santa LuciaRomeItaly

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