Dopamine protects neurons against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity.

Cell death & disease

PubMedID: 23303129

Vaarmann A, Kovac S, Holmström KM, Gandhi S, Abramov AY. Dopamine protects neurons against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Cell Death Dis. 2013;4e455.
Glutamate excitotoxicity is responsible for neuronal death in acute neurological disorders including stroke, trauma and neurodegenerative disease. Loss of calcium homeostasis is a key mediator of glutamate-induced cell death. The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) is known to modulate calcium signalling, and here we show that it can do so in response to physiological concentrations of glutamate. Furthermore, DA is able to protect neurons from glutamate-induced cell death at pathological concentrations of glutamate. We demonstrate that DA has a novel role in preventing delayed calcium deregulation in cortical, hippocampal and midbrain neurons. The effect of DA in abolishing glutamate excitotoxicity can be induced by DA receptor agonists, and is abolished by DA receptor antagonists. Our data indicate that the modulation of glutamate excitotoxicity by DA is receptor-mediated. We postulate that DA has a major physiological function as a safety catch to restrict the glutamate-induced calcium signal, and thereby prevent glutamate-induced cell death in the brain.