To examine the role of Ca2+ entry through AMPA receptors in the pathogenesis of the ischemia-induced cell death of hippocampal neurons, we delivered cDNA of Q/R site-unedited form (GluR2Q) of AMPA receptor subunit GluR2 in the hippocampus by using an HVJ-liposome-mediated gene transfer technique. Two days prior to transient forebrain ischemia, we injected an HVJ-liposome containing cDNA of the GluR2Q-myc fusion gene into a rat unilateral hippocampus. In the absence of ischemic insult, overexpression of Ca2+-permeable GluR2Q did not cause any neurodegeneration in the cDNA-injected hippocampus. In ischemic rats, overexpression of Ca2+-permeable GluR2Q markedly promoted ischemic cell death of CA1 pyramidal neurons, while complete rescue of CA1 pyramidal neurons from ischemic damage occurred in the hippocampal hemisphere opposite the GluR2Q expression. Overexpression of the Q/R-site edited form (GluR2R) of subunit GluR2 did not affect the ischemia-induced damage of CA1 pyramidal neurons. From these results, we suggest that the Ca2+-permeability of AMPA receptors does not have a direct contribution to glutamate receptor-mediated neurotoxicity but has a promotive action in the evolution of ischemia-induced neurodegeneration of vulnerable neurons.
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