Glycine potentiates strychnine-induced convulsions: Role of NMDA receptors

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Strychnine poisoning leads to seizures that have traditionally been attributed to competitive antagonism of glycine receptors in the spinal cord. Although glycine is thought to act as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a strychnine-insensitive glycine (Gly2) receptor has been recently described in cultured mouse neurons that is thought to be allosterically linked to the excitatory amino acid NMDA receptor. The present study demonstrates that intrathecally administered glycine, in contrast to other putative inhibitory transmitters, potentiates rather than inhibites strychnine-induced convulsions in mice. The seizure-potentiating effect of glycine are blocked by aminophosphonovaleric acid, and NMDA antagonist. In addition, in animals pretreated with a subconvulsive dose of strychnine to block strychnine-sensitive glycine receptors (Gly1), glycine enhances, rather than inhibits, NMDA-induced convulsions. Together, these results indicate that the seizure-potentiating effects of glycine involve activation of NMDA receptors. This study provides the first evidence that glycine is capable of modulating the activity of NMDA receptors in the spinal cords of adult animals. In light of the elevated concentrations of glycine found in epileptogenic brain foci, these data also suggest that glycine may be a positive modulator in the production of epileptic seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3822-3826
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1988


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