N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are a class of ionotropic glutamate receptors. The NMDA receptor channel has been shown to be involved in long-term potentiation, an activity-dependent increase in the efficiency of synaptic transmission thought to underlie certain kinds of memory and learning. NMDA receptor channels are heterotetramers composed of two molecules of the key receptor subunit NMDAR1 (GRIN1) and two drawn from one or more of the four NMDAR2 subunits: NMDAR2A (GRIN2A), NMDAR2B (GRIN2B), NMDAR2C (GRIN2C), and NMDAR2D (GRIN2D). The NR2 subunit acts as the agonist binding site for glutamate, one of the predominant excitatory neurotransmitter receptors in the mammalian brain.
NR2B has been associated with age- and visual-experience-dependent plasticity in the neocortex of rats, where an increased NR2B/NR2A ratio correlates directly with the stronger excitatory LTP in young animals. This is thought to contribute to experience-dependent refinement of developing cortical circuits.
Both mice and rats that were engineered to over-express GRIN2B in their brains have increased mental ability.
Evt 101, a selective NR2B receptor antagonist. This compound was tested as a potentially fast-acting antidepressant. In 2011 it was voluntarily withdrawn from a Phase II clinical study in treatment-resistant depression due to an unsatisfactory toxicity profile.
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