Clinical experience with excitatory amino acid antagonist drugs.
BACKGROUND:Excitotoxic damage due to excess release of neuronal glutamate is hypothesized to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of focal cerebral ischemia. Drugs that antagonize excitatory amino acid function are consistently neuroprotective in preclinical models of stroke, and many are now entering clinical trials. SUMMARY:Antagonists of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor are furthest advanced in clinical development for stroke. Both noncompetitive (aptiganel hydrochloride, dextrorphan) and competitive (selfotel, d-CPPene) antagonists have undergone tolerability studies in acute stroke and traumatic brain injury. These agents all cause a similar spectrum of neuropsychological symptoms, and several have important cardiovascular effects. Other modulatory sites on the NMDA receptor complex, notably the polyamine and magnesium ion sites, are also the subject of clinical trials. Glycine site antagonists are in early clinical development. Non-NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists remain in preclinical study. Neuroprotection by agents that block glutamate release in vitro may be due to sodium channel blockade in vivo, but some agents (619C89) exhibit neurological effects similar to NMDA antagonists in stroke. The therapeutic index is unknown for different drugs but may be determined by cardiovascular effects, especially hypotension, which may be detrimental after stroke. CONCLUSIONS:Excitatory amino acid antagonists are in advanced development in the treatment of stroke and traumatic brain injury. A similar pattern of side effects is apparent with the majority of agents. However, cardiovascular effects may ultimately define therapeutic index for each drug.
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