Effect of dexamethasone treatment on maturational changes in the NMDA receptor in sheep brain

J. E. McGowan, G. Sysyn, K. H. Petersson, G. B. Sadowska, O. P. Mishra, M. Delivoria-Papadopoulos, B. S. Stonestreet

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    26 Scopus citations


    The objective of the present study was to examine the effect of antenatal or postnatal treatment with corticosteroids on the NMDA receptor, one of the mediators of both normal brain development and hypoxic-ischemic injury, by determining the characteristics of the receptor MK-801 binding site in untreated and corticosteroid-treated fetal and newborn lambs. 3H-MK-801 binding was performed in cerebral cortical cell membranes from fetal sheep at 88, 120, and 136 d gestation (term = 150 d), and from 5-d-old lambs and adult ewes. Animals were randomized to receive dexamethasone [fetuses: 6 mg, i.m. every 12 hr for four doses to mother; lambs: 0.01 mg/kg (low dose) or 0.25 mg/kg (high dose) every 12 hr for four doses] or placebo. During development, B(max) (apparent number of receptors) increased, reaching a maximum in 5-d-old lambs (p <0.05) and decreasing in the adult brain. K(d) (dissociation constant) did not change, suggesting that receptor affinity was not altered during maturation. Dexamethasone treatment had no effect on MK-801 binding in the fetus or adult, but in lambs was associated with a significant decrease in B(max) from 2.17 ± 0.18 pmol/mg protein in placebo-treated animals to 1.65 ± 0.8 and 1.62 ± 0.07 pmol/mg protein in low-dose and high-dose animals, respectively. Affinity for 3H-MK-801 decreased 20% after dexamethasone treatment in lambs only (p <0.05). Thus, dexamethasone treatment appears to modify the NMDA receptor only during a specific period of brain development.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)7424-7429
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Neuroscience
    Issue number19
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2000


    • Brain development
    • Corticosteroids
    • Glutamate receptors
    • NMDA
    • Receptor binding
    • Sheep

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)


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