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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Aug;30(8):1441-9. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2010.18. Epub 2010 Feb 10.

Activation of NR2A receptors induces ischemic tolerance through CREB signaling.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.


Previous exposure to a nonlethal ischemic insult protects the brain against subsequent harmful ischemia. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are a highly studied target of neuroprotection after ischemia. Recently, NMDA receptor subtypes were implicated in neuronal survival and death. We focused on the contribution of NR2A and cyclic-AMP response element (CRE)-binding protein (CREB) signaling to ischemic tolerance using primary cortical neurons. Ischemia in vitro was modeled by oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD). Ischemic tolerance was induced by applying 45-mins OGD 24 h before 180-mins OGD. Sublethal OGD also induced cross-tolerance against lethal glutamate and hydrogen peroxide. After sublethal OGD, expression of phosphorylated CREB and CRE transcriptional activity were significantly increased. When CRE activity was inhibited by CREB-S133A, a mutant CREB, ischemic tolerance was abolished. Inhibiting NR2A using NVP-AAM077 attenuated preconditioning-induced neuroprotection and correlated with decreased CRE activity levels. Activating NR2A using bicuculline and 4-aminopiridine induced resistance to lethal ischemia accompanied by elevated CRE activity levels, and this effect was abolished by NVP-AAM077. Elevated brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) transcriptional activities were observed after sublethal OGD and administration of bicuculline and 4-aminopiridine. NR2A-containing NMDA receptors and CREB signaling have important functions in the induction of ischemic tolerance. This may provide potential novel therapeutic strategies to treat ischemic stroke.

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