Current Neuropharmacology (v.14, #5)

Meet Our Editorial Board Member by Geoffrey Burnstock (403-403).

Relief learning is an appetitive association of a formally neutral cue with relief induced by the offset of an aversive stimulus. Since the nucleus accumbens mediates relief learning and accumbal metabotropic glutamate receptors 7 (mGluR7) modulate appetitive-like processes, we hypothesized that accumbal mGluR7 may be involved in the modulation of relief learning. Therefore, we injected the allosteric mGluR7 agonist AMN082 into the nucleus accumbens and tested the effects of these injections on acquisition and expression of relief memory, as well as on the reactivity to electric stimuli. AMN082 injections blocked acquisition but not expression of relief memory. In addition, accumbal AMN082 injections strongly reduced the locomotor reactivity to electric stimuli indicating antinociceptive effects. These antinociceptive effects might be causal for the blockade of relief learning after AMN082 injections. Taken together, the present study indicates that functional activation of accumbal mGluR7 has antinociceptive effects that interfere with relief learning.

Involvement of GABAB Receptor Signaling in Antipsychotic-like Action of the Novel Orthosteric Agonist of the mGlu4 Receptor, LSP4-2022 by Monika Wo|niak, Francine Acher, Marcin Marciniak, Magdalena Laso|-Tyburkiewicz, Piotr Gruca, Mariusz Papp, Andrzej Pilc, Joanna M. Wiero|ska (413-426).
Considering that ligands of metabotropic glutamate and GABA receptors may exert beneficial effects on schizophrenia, we assessed the actions of the first mGlu4-selective orthosteric agonist, LSP4-2022, in several tests reflecting positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. Moreover, we investigated the possible involvement of GABAB receptors in LSP4-2022-induced actions. Hyperactivity induced by MK-801 or amphetamine and DOI-induced head twitches in mice were used as the models of positive symptoms. The social interaction test, modified forced swim test (FST), and novel object recognition (NOR) test were used as the models of negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. LSP4-2022 inhibited hyperactivity (in a dose-dependent manner, 0.5-2 mg/kg) induced by MK-801 or amphetamine and DOI-induced head twitches. In mGlu4 receptor knockout mice, LSP4-2022 was not effective. However, it reversed MK-801-induced impairment in the social interaction test and the MK-801-induced increase of immobility in the modified FST. In the NOR test, LSP4-2022 was active at a dose of 2 mg/kg. GABAB receptor antagonist, CGP55845 (10 mg/kg), reversed LSP4-2022-induced effects in hyperactivity and head twitch tests. At the same time, the simultaneous administration of subeffective doses of LSP4-2022 (0.1 mg/kg) and a positive allosteric modulator of GABAB receptor PAM, GS39783 (0.1 mg/kg), induced clear antipsychotic-like effects in those two tests. Such an interaction between mGlu4 and GABAB receptors was not observed in the social interaction and NOR tests. Therefore, we suggest that the activation of the mGlu4 receptor is a promising approach facilitating the discovery of novel antipsychotic drugs, and that the interplay between mGlu4 and GABAB receptors may become the basis for a novel therapy for schizophrenic patients with predomination of positive symptoms.

Many cortical areas play crucial roles in higher order brain functions such as pain and emotion-processing, decision-making, and cognition. Among them, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and insular cortex (IC) are two key areas. Glutamate mediates major excitatory transmission during long-term plasticity in both physiological and pathological conditions. Specifically related to nociceptive or pain behaviors, metabotropic glutamate subtype receptors (mGluRs) have been involved in different types of synaptic modulation and plasticity from periphery to the spinal cord. However, less is known about their functional roles in plasticity related to pain and its related behaviors within cortical regions. In this review, we first summarized previous studies of synaptic plasticity in both the ACC and IC, and discussed how mGluRs may be involved in both cortical long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD)-especially in LTD. The activation of mGluRs contributes to the induction of LTD in both ACC and IC areas. The loss of LTD caused by peripheral amputation or nerve injury can be rescued by priming ACC or IC with activations of mGluR1 receptors. We also discussed the potential functional roles of mGluRs for pain-related behaviors. We propose that targeting mGluRs in the cortical areas including the ACC and IC may provide a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of chronic pain, phantom pain or anxiety.

NMDA receptors are composed of multiple subunits and are crucial in the induction of synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. In this study, application of the group I mGlu receptor agonist, DHPG, caused LTD of NMDA-EPSCs (DHPG-LTDNMDA) of the Schaffer collateral, but not of NMDA-EPSCs of the temperoammonic pathway onto CA1 neurons of the hippocampus. DHPGLTDNMDA did not alter the sensitivity of NMDA-EPSC to the GluN2B-antagonist, Ro25-6981, indicating that the postsynaptic NMDA receptor subunit composition remained unchanged following DHPG-LTDNMDA. Furthermore, blockade of GluN2B receptors did not affect the induction of DHPG-LTDNMDA. These results demonstrate a difference in the plasticity of NMDA receptors between two synapses onto the same CA1 neuron, but indicate that the subunit composition of NMDA receptors does not account for this difference.

Shining Light on an mGlu5 Photoswitchable NAM: A Theoretical Perspective by James A.R. Dalton, Isaias Lans, Xavier Rovira, Fanny Malhaire, Xavier Gómez-Santacana, Silvia Pittolo, Pau Gorostiza, Amadeu Llebaria, Cyril Goudet, Jean-Philippe Pin, Jesús Giraldo (441-454).
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are important drug targets because of their involvement in several neurological diseases. Among mGluRs, mGlu5 is a particularly high-profile target because its positive or negative allosteric modulation can potentially treat schizophrenia or anxiety and chronic pain, respectively. Here, we computationally and experimentally probe the functional binding of a novel photoswitchable mGlu5 NAM, termed alloswitch-1, which loses its NAM functionality under violet light. We show alloswitch-1 binds deep in the allosteric pocket in a similar fashion to mavoglurant, the co-crystallized NAM in the mGlu5 transmembrane domain crystal structure. Alloswitch-1, like NAM 2-Methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine (MPEP), is significantly affected by P655M mutation deep in the allosteric pocket, eradicating its functionality. In MD simulations, we show alloswitch-1 and MPEP stabilize the co-crystallized water molecule located at the bottom of the allosteric site that is seemingly characteristic of the inactive receptor state. Furthermore, both NAMs form H-bonds with S809 on helix 7, which may constitute an important stabilizing interaction for NAM-induced mGlu5 inactivation. Alloswitch-1, through isomerization of its amide group from trans to cis is able to form an additional interaction with N747 on helix 5. This may be an important interaction for amide-containing mGlu5 NAMs, helping to stabilize their binding in a potentially unusual cis-amide state. Simulated conformational switching of alloswitch-1 in silico suggests photoisomerization of its azo group from trans to cis may be possible within the allosteric pocket. However, photoexcited alloswitch-1 binds in an unstable fashion, breaking H-bonds with the protein and destabilizing the co-crystallized water molecule. This suggests photoswitching may have destabilizing effects on mGlu5 binding and functionality.

Long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) are two distinct forms of synaptic plasticity that have been extensively characterized at the Schaffer collateral-CA1 (SCCA1) synapse and the mossy fiber (MF)-CA3 synapse within the hippocampus, and are postulated to be the molecular underpinning for several cognitive functions. Deficits in LTP and LTD have been implicated in the pathophysiology of several neurological and psychiatric disorders. Therefore, there has been a large effort focused on developing an understanding of the mechanisms underlying these forms of plasticity and novel therapeutic strategies that improve or rescue these plasticity deficits. Among many other targets, the metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors show promise as novel therapeutic candidates for the treatment of these disorders. Among the eight distinct mGlu receptor subtypes (mGlu1-8), the mGlu1,2,3,5,7 subtypes are expressed throughout the hippocampus and have been shown to play important roles in the regulation of synaptic plasticity in this brain area. However, development of therapeutic agents that target these mGlu receptors has been hampered by a lack of subtype-selective compounds. Recently, discovery of allosteric modulators of mGlu receptors has provided novel ligands that are highly selective for individual mGlu receptor subtypes. The mGlu receptors modulate the multiple forms of synaptic plasticity at both SC-CA1 and MF synapses and allosteric modulators of mGlu receptors have emerged as potential therapeutic agents that may rescue plasticity deficits and improve cognitive function in patients suffering from multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Does the MK2-dependent Production of TNF? Regulate mGluR-dependent Synaptic Plasticity? by Ellen L. Hogg, Jürgen Müller, Sônia A.L. Corrêa (474-480).
The molecular mechanisms and signalling cascades that trigger the induction of group I metabotropic glutamate receptor (GI-mGluR)-dependent long-term depression (LTD) have been the subject of intensive investigation for nearly two decades. The generation of genetically modified animals has played a crucial role in elucidating the involvement of key molecules regulating the induction and maintenance of mGluR-LTD. In this review we will discuss the requirement of the newly discovered MAPKAPK-2 (MK2) and MAPKAPK-3 (MK3) signalling cascade in regulating GI-mGluR-LTD. Recently, it has been shown that the absence of MK2 impaired the induction of GI-mGluR-dependent LTD, an effect that is caused by reduced internalization of AMPA receptors (AMPAR). As the MK2 cascade directly regulates tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF?) production, this review will examine the evidence that the release of TNF? acts to regulate glutamate receptor expression and therefore may play a functional role in the impairment of GI-mGluRdependent LTD and the cognitive deficits observed in MK2/3 double knockout animals. The strong links of increased TNF? production in both aging and neurodegenerative disease could implicate the action of MK2 in these processes.

mGlu5, Dopamine D2 and Adenosine A2A Receptors in L-DOPA-induced Dyskinesias by Nicolas Morin, Marc Morissette, Laurent Grégoire, Thérèse Di Paolo (481-493).
Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) receiving L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA, the gold-standard treatment for this disease) frequently develop abnormal involuntary movements, termed L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias (LID). Glutamate overactivity is well documented in PD and LID. An approach to manage LID is to add to L-DOPA specific agents to reduce dyskinesias such as metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGlu receptor) drugs. This article reviews the contribution of mGlu type 5 (mGlu5) receptors in animal models of PD.
Several mGlu5 negative allosteric modulators acutely attenuate LID in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6- tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) monkeys and 6-hydroxydopamine(6-OHDA)-lesioned rats. Chronic administration of mGlu5 negative allosteric modulators to MPTP monkeys and 6-OHDA rats also attenuates LID while maintaining the antiparkinsonian effect of L-DOPA.
Radioligand autoradiography shows an elevation of striatal mGlu5 receptors of dyskinetic L-DOPA-treated MPTP monkeys but not in those without LID. The brain molecular correlates of the long-term effect of mGlu5 negative allosteric modulators treatments with L-DOPA attenuating development of LID was shown to extend beyond mGlu5 receptors with normalization of glutamate activity in the basal ganglia of L-DOPA-induced changes of NMDA, AMPA, mGlu2/3 receptors and VGlut2 transporter.
In the basal ganglia, mGlu5 receptor negative allosteric modulators also normalize the L-DOPA-induced changes of dopamine D2 receptors, their associated signaling proteins (ERK1/2 and Akt/GSK3?) and neuropeptides (preproenkephalin, preprodynorphin) as well as the adenosine A2A receptors expression.
These results show in animal models of PD reduction of LID with mGlu5 negative allosteric modulation associated with normalization of glutamate, dopamine and adenosine receptors suggesting a functional link of these receptors in chronic treatment with L-DOPA.

Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors mediate slow excitatory neurotransmission in the central nervous system and are critical to activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, a cellular substrate of learning and memory. Dysregulated receptor signaling is implicated in neuropsychiatric conditions ranging from neurodevelopmental to neurodegenerative disorders. Importantly, group I metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling functions can be modulated by interacting proteins that mediate receptor trafficking, expression and coupling efficiency to signaling effectors. These interactions afford cell- or pathway-specific modulation to fine-tune receptor function, thus representing a potential target for pharmacological interventions in pathological conditions.

Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 7: From Synaptic Function to Therapeutic Implications by Enza Palazzo, Ida Marabese, Vito de Novellis, Francesco Rossi, Sabatino Maione (504-513).
Metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGluR7) is localized presynaptically at the active zone of neurotransmitter release. Unlike mGluR4 and mGluR8, which share mGluR7's presynaptic location, mGluR7 shows low affinity for glutamate and is activated only by high glutamate concentrations. Its wide distribution in the central nervous system (CNS) and evolutionary conservation across species suggest that mGluR7 plays a primary role in controlling excitatory synapse function. High mGluR7 expression has been observed in several brain regions that are critical for CNS functioning and are involved in neurological and psychiatric disorder development. Until the recent discovery of selective ligands for mGluR7, techniques to elucidate its role in neural function were limited to the use of knockout mice and gene silencing. Studies using these two techniques have revealed that mGluR7 modulates emotionality, stress and fear responses. N,N'-dibenzhydrylethane-1,2-diamine dihydrochloride (AMN082) was reported as the first selective mGluR7 allosteric agonist. Pharmacological effects of AMN082 have not completely confirmed the mGluR7-knockout mouse phenotype; this has been attributed to rapid receptor internalization after drug treatment and to the drug's apparent lack of in vivo selectivity. Therefore, the more recently developed mGluR7 negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) are crucial for understanding mGluR7 function and for exploiting its potential as a target for therapeutic interventions. This review presents the main findings regarding mGluR7's effect on modulation of synaptic function and its role in normal CNS function and in models of neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

Chronic stress-related psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse are an enormous public health concern. The etiology of these pathologies is complex, with psychosocial stressors being among the most frequently discussed risk factors. The brain glutamatergic neurotransmitter system has often been found involved in behaviors and pathophysiologies resulting from acute stress and fear. Despite this, relatively little is known about the role of glutamatergic system components in chronic psychosocial stress, neither in rodents nor in humans. Recently, drug discovery efforts at the metabotropic receptor subtypes of the glutamatergic system (mGlu1-8 receptors) led to the identification of pharmacological tools with emerging potential in psychiatric conditions. But again, the contribution of individual mGlu subtypes to the manifestation of physiological, molecular, and behavioral consequences of chronic psychosocial stress remains still largely unaddressed. The current review will describe animal models typically used to analyze acute and particularly chronic stress conditions, including models of psychosocial stress, and there we will discuss the emerging roles for mGlu receptor subtypes. Indeed, accumulating evidence indicates relevance and potential therapeutic usefulness of mGlu2/3 ligands and mGlu5 receptor antagonists in chronic stress-related disorders. In addition, a role for further mechanisms, e.g. mGlu7-selective compounds, is beginning to emerge. These mechanisms are important to be analyzed in chronic psychosocial stress paradigms, e.g. in the chronic subordinate colony housing (CSC) model. We summarize the early results and discuss necessary future investigations, especially for mGlu5 and mGlu7 receptor blockers, which might serve to suggest improved therapeutic strategies to treat stress-related disorders.

The Role of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Genes in Schizophrenia by Carlo Maj, Alessandra Minelli, Edoardo Giacopuzzi, Emilio Sacchetti, Massimo Gennarelli (540-550).
Genomic studies revealed two main components in the genetic architecture of schizophrenia, one constituted by common variants determining a distributed polygenic effect and one represented by a large number of heterogeneous rare and highly disruptive mutations. These gene modifications often affect neural transmission and different studies proved an involvement of metabotropic glutamate receptors in schizophrenia phenotype. Through the combination of literature information with genomic data from public repositories, we analyzed the current knowledge on the involvement of genetic variations of the human metabotropic glutamate receptors in schizophrenia and related endophenotypes. Despite the analysis did not reveal a definitive connection, different suggestive associations have been identified and in particular a relevant role has emerged for GRM3 in affecting specific schizophrenia endophenotypes. This supports the hypothesis that these receptors are directly involved in schizophrenia disorder.

Neurotransmitter and receptor systems are involved in different neurological and neuropsychological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, depression, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy. Recent advances in studies of signal transduction pathways or interacting proteins of neurotransmitter receptor systems suggest that different receptor systems may share the common signal transduction pathways or interacting proteins which may be better therapeutic targets for development of drugs to effectively control brain diseases. In this paper, we reviewed metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and their related signal transduction pathways or interacting proteins in status epilepticus and temporal lobe epilepsy, and proposed some novel therapeutical drug targets for controlling epilepsy and epileptogenesis.