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Physiology International
DN Nandakumar
P Ramaswamy
C Prasad
D Srinivas
, and
K Goswami


Glioblastoma cells create glutamate-rich tumor microenvironment, which initiates activation of ion channels and modulates downstream intracellular signaling. N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs; a type of glutamate receptors) have a high affinity for glutamate. The role of NMDAR activation on invasion of glioblastoma cells and the crosstalk with α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) is yet to be explored.

Main methods

LN18, U251MG, and patient-derived glioblastoma cells were stimulated with NMDA to activate NMDAR glutamate receptors. The role of NMDAR activation on invasion and migration and its crosstalk with AMPAR were evaluated. Invasion and migration of glioblastoma cells were investigated by in vitro trans-well Matrigel invasion and trans-well migration assays, respectively. Expression of NMDARs and AMPARs at transcript level was evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.


We determined that NMDA stimulation leads to enhanced invasion in LN18, U251MG, and patient-derived glioblastoma cells, whereas inhibition of NMDAR using MK-801, a non-competitive antagonist of the NMDAR, significantly decreased the invasive capacity. Concordant with these findings, migration was significantly augmented by NMDAR in both cell lines. Furthermore, NMDA stimulation upregulated the expression of GluN2 and GluA1 subunits at the transcript level.


This study demonstrated the previously unexplored role of NMDAR in invasion of glioblastoma cells. Furthermore, the expression of the GluN2 subunit of NMDAR and the differential overexpression of the GluA1 subunit of AMPAR in both cell lines provide a plausible rationale of crosstalk between these calcium-permeable subunits in the glutamate-rich microenvironment of glioblastoma.

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