Dysregulated Src upregulation of NMDA receptor activity: a common link in chronic pain and schizophrenia

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Upregulation of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function by the nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase Src has been implicated in physiological plasticity at glutamatergic synapses. Here, we highlight recent findings suggesting that aberrant Src upregulation of NMDA receptors may also be key in pathophysiological conditions. Within the nociceptive processing network in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, pathologically increased Src upregulation of NMDA receptors is critical for pain hypersensitivity in models of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. On the other hand, in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, the physiological upregulation of NMDA receptors by Src is blocked by neuregulin 1–ErbB4 signaling, a pathway that is genetically implicated in the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus, either over-upregulation or under-upregulation of NMDA receptors by Src may lead to pathological conditions in the central nervous system. Therefore, normalizing Src upregulation of NMDA receptors may be a novel therapeutic approach for central nervous system disorders, without the deleterious consequences of directly blocking NMDA receptors.

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